Monday, 17 February 2020

Deputy Mayor Wants Torontonians to Share Ideas for Boosting City's Nightime Economy

By Neil Armstrong

Photo contributed    Deputy Mayor and councillor Michael Thompson

Councillor Michael Thompson, the City of Toronto’s first night economy ambassador, is urging Torontonians to share their ideas and thoughts on how to boost the nighttime sector.

Thompson, whose portfolio includes responsibility for economic development and community development, says a series of citywide community engagements will be held soon.

“As you think about nighttime activities from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. we’re talking about childcare, we’re talking about jobs, we’re talking about a variety of other things to do.”

Additionally, the councillor who is also a deputy mayor, is asking people to send in by email or voicemail or whatever means they prefer ideas to him and his team about how the City can advance the night economy.

“It’s a $4.2 billion economy. We want to take it to $10 billion. That means more jobs, more opportunities for the cultural sector right across the board for all of us so that we can actually advance ourselves and ensuring that prosperity is going to be available to all.”

Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of more than 2.9 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities.

The deputy mayor is also encouraging Torontonians to look at City Hall’s agenda taking place at committees and at city council.

He told those gathered at City Hall to celebrate Black History Month that they should go online and take a look at what is in those reports to see how things may affect their neighbourhoods. Thompson wants them to offer thoughts on how the City can do things better.

“I want to implore you as we advance on this Decade for People of African Descent to get more involved because that’s how we change the environment to reflect our interests and all the things that we want.”

In November, Mayor John Tory announced the appointment of Thompson, the councilor of Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), as the City's night economy ambassador to be the champion on City Council for Toronto's nighttime economy.

The term "nighttime economy" describes the social, cultural and economic activities that take place between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. in the city.

“As a vibrant nighttime economy has become a competitive edge for modern cities worldwide, Toronto sees local nighttime activity as an important part of the overall economy. A city that safely and effectively infuses music, entertainment and nighttime vibrancy into its civic culture attracts and retains young people, enhances livability for residents and increases tourism throughout the year,” notes the City.

The Toronto region's nightlife employs tens of thousands of people in many sectors.

Edmonton found that the economic impact stemming from its late-night entertainment economy was $1.4 billion in 2014 and a study of New York City's nighttime economy reported that it had an economic output of $19.1 billion (USD) in 2016.

Last year, Mayor Tory pledged to foster job creation and economic development by growing Toronto's evening economy.

City Council endorsed the Strengthening Toronto's Nighttime Economy report on July 16 and requested that the mayor designate a member of council as Toronto's night economy ambassador.

The council also directed staff to implement the Toronto Nightlife Action Plan to strengthen Toronto's nightlife over the next three years, using and in some cases re-aligning existing City resources.

The City is working across divisions and will be engaging further with Toronto nightlife industry leaders and residents to grow and foster this important sector.

[This story has been published in the North American Weekly Gleaner, February 13-19, 2020.]

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