A petition to save a popular bar in Toronto’s Church and Wellesley neighbourhood from becoming a condo development has garnered thousands of signatures.
The condo development proposal would not only take out the popular Crews & Tango bar but also another “boutique” bar in the LGBT neighbourhood and space used for a stage during the annual Pride Parade, as well.
The Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association released a statement to let the community know that a real estate development group are “currently undertaking preliminary consultations with community groups, a precursor to a development proposal that will likely be submitted to the City later this year.”
The new development would span from 506 to 516 Church street.
“Crews & Tangos is a bar based in Toronto’s famous gay village, over the years the village has lost MANY bars and clubs, making the community smaller and smaller,” the petition reads.
“This will take away not only our spaces to feel safe, but take away jobs for artists who live off of performing every night.”
Mayor John Tory told Global News that the proposal and the idea that the city might continue to lose an important place such as Crews & Tango is “a major concern” and a source of “frustration.”
“The good news is that people want to build here, people want to live here, people want to work here and we have to have places for them to live and work but we have to do so in a way that’s compatible with the character of the city and some of the very special areas, including The Village that are part of who we are and a part of what we are,” he continued.
Tory said there is a “robust” consultation and approval process that involves people and the community.
“I’m optimistic that process will produce something that is broadly acceptable to the community, that recognizes the fact that there is going to be change in a big successful growing city, but that you can do it in a way that doesn’t sweep away the past and preservers the best part of the past.”
Francis Andreis started the petition and said that to him, Crews & Tango is more than just a bar – it’s a safe space for him.
“We cannot afford to lose another LGBT space. The village is a safe haven for LGBT folk to be ourselves,” he said.
Started two days ago, the petition has already garnered over 15,000 signatures.
“It feels great to know I’m not alone in my thoughts, and it really shows me that the community also knows how important these spaces are. That we are tired of our spaces being taken away from us. I feel very connected with my community,” Andreis said about the overwhelming response.
On the petition page, Andreis said that if the bar must change then it should be made into another LGBT space rather than a condo.
“The village is a safe haven for LGBT folk to be ourselves, moving our spaces to the ‘entertainment district’ and mixing us in with non-LGBT crowds will not make us feel safe, put us at actual risk for physical violence from outsiders.”