Dear Mr. Van Cooten:
RE: TORONTO TO UNVEIL REGGAE LANE
Please allow me space in your publication to respond to an article in your September 3rd 2014 issue entitled “Toronto to unveil Reggae Lane”.
I must first express appreciation to your media for bringing this issue to our attention. I note that Pride News did not endorse or refute what was presented: Neither did Mr Neil Armstrong make his personal opinion known. I have no problem at all with any of the above.
I was appalled that such an important issue was being discussed and decided upon, without anyone that I know or acquainted with; knowing anything about it. I am not blaming anyone for that. I am just expressing my shock that after 40 plus years of continuous contribution to the development of the Canadian Reggae Industry; such thing could happen without me even hearing about it.
The passageway to be called Reggae Lane in my opinion is a gross disrespect to the industry which we have built in Canada. There is absolutely nothing in this for anyone with dignity to be proud of. Such suggestion by Toronto city councillor Colle should have been handcuffed and thrown right out the door. It is quite obvious to me that whosoever was present and allowed this disrespectful idea to gather enough energy to reach city organizers; did not understand the significance of what was at stake.
Had they been responsible concerning the value of our heritage; they would never allow the councillor to make such a move on them. This is definitely a calculated low political move; at a non-suspecting few, who evidently did not know what was really at stake. This councillor will go down in Toronto’s history; as the person responsible for conceiving this disrespectful idea. He will be entrenched solidly into our historic story: For renaming a passageway; Reggae Lane. Note: No one could have approved the RENAMING of the passageway, because it does not have a name…FACT! The report Councillor Colle sent to the community on August 13th was erroneous or fraudulent.
I will not blame councillor Colle 100% for this act, because I cannot prove his intention for suggesting and acting on an idea which was solely his. However; I must question those who were present, and who consented to this total disrespect of our heritage.
Let’s just take a look at the alternatives which were and still are present. The Toronto Reggae Music Community has been identified as an area stretching between Marlee Avenue in the east along Eglinton Avenue Westward to Dufferin Street. Why couldn’t the good-intentioned councillor see it fit to suggest naming that stretch Reggae Village? Or better yet; why didn’t those present see it fit to name the place they all agreed contributed to the Reggae Industry; Reggae Street, or Reggae Avenue?
What is being called Reggae Lane wasn’t and is not a lane, but a passageway where business owners used as back entrance to their businesses. The only other occupants were and are; drug dealers and their passing through clients. This is a well known fact to those who frequent the area and also the police who policed the area. There is no dignity in being associated with such a notorious history.
I disagree with Mrs Denise Jones of Jambana One World Festival; that naming this no-where place Reggae Lane is a good start. I think it is a very bad start. All her other points are solid, revealing and most relevant. After we have built such an enormous industry; how can we allow ourselves to be pushed into a no-where back alley; where nothing uplifting ever occurred?
I agree that business owners along the strip might think this is the greatest thing since slice bread: However; very few of them consciously contributed to the building of this industry, or understand the true significance of what we have built. The fact is that The Canadian Reggae Industry has transcended music. We have created a very vibrant industry; which incorporated fashion, beauty-care, cultural cuisine, travel, entertainment, production, manufacturing, distribution, etc.
If councillor Colle has respect for the industry we have built; with little or no help from government; he will refrain from going through with this disrespectful transgression; which seeks to belittle our integrity. He will pay immediate attention to the following recommendation given by Mrs Denise Jones “Reggae music is global and demands the name of a street”. I strongly suggest that councillor Colle respects what Mrs Jones said, because she speaks for me and those that contributed to the building and upkeep of the Canadian Reggae Industry. Anything less is definitely not acceptable.
A concerned contributor