Outspoken Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti has come under fire for describing Toronto’s west-end Parkdale neighbourhood as a “pedophile district” in a release opposing raves at Exhibition Place.
In the release issued on Monday, Mammoliti questions the safety of staging the all-ages electronic dance music parties in close proximity to Parkdale.
“The neighbouring Parkdale area is home to one of the highest concentrations of registered sex offenders, including pedophiles, living in the City of Toronto,” he wrote.
“With ‘all-ages’ parties being held next to a pedophile district we are simply encouraging the continued abuse of our children.”
“The question needs to be posed to the Parkdale representative, Councillor Gord Perks, who has publicly condoned the all-ages promoters – why are you advocating for children and adults to be partying right next door to your ward which has one of the largest concentrations of registered sex offenders in the city? Who are you really representing?”
Perks responded by posting a letter on his website where he expressed “how saddened” he was “that Parkdale has been attacked this way.”
“As we all know Parkdale is the kind of community everyone in Toronto admires,” Perks wrote. “We are economically, socially and culturally diverse. We accept and welcome and love each other. If the rest of Toronto were more like Parkdale, Toronto would be an even better place to live.
“Rest assured this attack comes from one irresponsible voice.”
The Toronto Star quoted Coun. Doug Ford as saying Mammoliti has “lost his mind” and Twitter blew up with angry responses. Others expressed their affection for Parkdale using the hashtag #Parkdalelove.
Mammoliti stood by his stance when he attended a public consultation hosted by the Exhibition Place Board of Governors Monday night.
“Where sex offenders seem to be settling in the city of Toronto, it’s very high in my opinion, in the Parkdale area,” he said.
“We’ve got children, some under the age of 10, who will be partying not only with people that want to drink, take drugs, and they might even be partying with some of these pedophiles that have settled in this area.”
According to statistics released last April, Parkdale has 158 sex offenders per 100,000 people – the third highest rate in the city.
Some city councillors took to Twitter to admonish Mammoliti’s portrayal of the popular neighbourhood.
— Kristyn Wong-Tam 黃慧文 (@kristynwongtam) June 16, 2014
Although we all respect freedom of speech, we must also respect fellow councillors and the communities they represent. No excuses! #TOpoli
— Norm Kelly (@DMayorKelly) June 16, 2014
“Folks are just kind of upset and fed up with the antics,” said Trinity-Spadina Coun. Mike Layton Monday night.
City council voted last spring to ask the Exhibition Board to overturn a ban on all-ages dance parties at Exhibition Place.
The parties usually take place at the Ex’s Better Living Centre and Direct Energy Centre.