Victoria city council to decide fate of Canada Day celebrations

WatchThe future of Canada Day celebrations in downtown Victoria will be in the hands of councillors Tomorrow. They will decide if the city whether to fund the party or scale it back. Julian Kolsut reports.

Victoria’s council will be deciding the fate of the city’s Canada Day celebrations on Thursday.

Two options have been put forward by city staff: to increase the budget to help police cover the costs or to reduce the scope of the event.

Last year, the city’s operating budget covered $12,000 for policing the event, but total costs were $109,058. The remaining costs were then covered through the police board budget, but officers said it was too much.

“There’s a cost, and when you are bringing in thousands of people in to for whatever event, a daytime event or evening event there is a security component to it…  and we have to make sure we allow the public to be safe in that space,” said Victoria Police Chief Del Manak.

The report recommends the option of $107,000 in funding for police, to keep Canada Day celebrations going at the current scale.

“I believe as a capital city, Canada Day is important, and I think it is a recognition that all of us, unless we are First Nations, have come from somewhere else,” said councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe.

“I think we want to show how proud we are of being Canadian, how much we appreciate the opportunities that Canada has to offer, as well as recognize that we are honoured to live on the homelands of the Lekwungen speaking people.”

She has been organizing the event for 19-years and says officers play a vital role at the celebrations.

“Public safety can be anything from an intoxicated youth…  could be a senior that has gotten lost…. a child that has gone missing,” said Thornton-Joe.

And Manak goes further, saying with large events they work to prevent the unthinkable.

“We have contingency plans in place, for all types of threats that may or not may not occur,” he said.

“But at the end of the day its important we have the resources we require to keep the community safe, and let families enjoy the event.”

But the second option, to reduce the scope of the celebrations is also on the table. Coun. Ben Issit back in June said the city could possibly reduce the size of the event and confine it to the B.C. Legislature grounds.

But Thornton-Joe hopes it does not come to that.

“I think it is the entire event that makes that day special,” she added.

Councillors will decide on the options tomorrow.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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