By Patrick Szpak
Associate News Editor
A multi-national corporation with big-name talent has put the 50th anniversary of Ryerson’s parade and picnic on Centre Island in question.
The RSU’s events coordinator, Spin, is saying the city stonewalled his attempts to secure a permit to use the traditional Olympic Island location on Centre Island for the party and concert that follows the parade down Yonge St. on the first Friday of September.
Spin said he e-mailed the authority in December 2006, nine months before the parade and picnic about getting a permit for the Sept. 7 event. He said he did not hear back until February, at which time he was informed the venue was taken by the Virgin Festival, a large outdoor concert put on by Virgin Mobile scheduled for September 8 and 9.
“Basically we got bumped out,” Spin said. “We’ve been given the short-end of the stick by a huge multi-national.”
Spin said that the Virgin Festival needs the Friday before the weekend to set up their equipment.
He said that, last year, Virgin Festival was given a permit to use Olympic Island after the RSU had gotten its permit, so Virgin had to share both the venue and the stage with Ryerson students on the Friday of the parade picnic.
“I think they (Virgin Festival) thought it was a pain in the ass,” Spin said.
Virgin Festival will be running for the second time this September. Thousands of fans are expected to pay more than $150 for tickets to see a reunited Smashing Pumpkins and Björk.
Spin said he suspects the reason Ryerson was bumped was because of the cash thousands of fans would bring in concessions and ticket-sales.
“We don’t have the leverage,” Spin said, referring to the clout he says Virgin brings when booking events.
Michale Donchez is the city employee responsible for handling Ryerson’s permit, but is recovering from surgery and unavailable for comment. His colleagues also declined to comment to The Eyeopener.
A spokeswomen for Virgin Festival would only say that they have been given the permit, and would not comment on Ryerson’s events.
Spin insisted that, no matter what comes from negotiations with the city, the parade and picnic will go ahead.
“We may be at another location on Toronto Island like Hanlan’s Point or somewhere else,” he said. Spin said they considered moving the date forward but couldn’t because the engineers, big participants in the event, would be mired in school work at the time.
Daniel Hayek is a third-year aerospace engineering student and organizer for the Ryerson Engineering Student Society’s frosh week. For him the parade is more important than its destination.
“As long as it’s walking distance from the university okay,” Hayek said. He said the most important part of the day was the parade.
“We don’t do anything big at Ryerson, but the parade shows people we’re downtown, we’re here.”