Certainly the promise of free food, music and community helped, but hundreds turned out for the fifth annual Bob Kemp Day, sponsored by the 51 Division Community Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) and some local merchants. Many were there Aug. 15 for Bob in the large David Crombie Park at The Esplanade and Princess St.
“Just Bob,” as he insists everyone call him, especially those inclined to say “Mr. Kemp”—or worse in his view, “Sir”—is the Downtown St. Lawrence Neighbourhood’s do-it-all guy who manages to cobble together work crews for public projects, including those conducted by the local St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood Business Improvement Area (BIA).
The services he and his crews provide range from light-pole decoration, flower- and tree-watering, to clean-up after public events.
He often taps the Salvation Army’s roster of men and women in need to help out at public events and is said to be responsible for helping redirect the lives of many former alcoholics and substance-dependent people.
They quickly form an attachment to Bob due to the no-nonsense attitude he displays in helping them straighten out their lives and help the community at the same time. He can sound mean, but he’s soft as cotton. Many of his workers, past and present, say that due to their experiences on his crews they felt worthwhile for perhaps the first time in their lives.
Bob Kemp Day 2013 lasted from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Same time next year. Bob promises to be around for it.
— Frank Touby