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Published on Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Town to spend $90,000 holding Oakville Canada Day event for 2018

Town staff looking at options for future Canada Day events after 2018

Town to spend $90,000 holding Oakville Canada Day event for 2018
Metroland photo
Canada Day in Bronte
By David Lea, Oakville Beaver

The town will spend more than $90,000 holding Oakville’s Canada Day celebration for 2018.

The majority of council voted Feb. 27 to essentially take ownership of the renowned event, which has been held in the Bronte Village since 1964.

The move comes following an announcement by the Bronte Business Improvement Area (BIA) that they would not be holding the celebration due to the costs involved.

Bronte BIA executive director Ann Sargent said the 2017 festival cost around $178,000 to hold.

The event has been steadily growing in scale since 2009, with organizers estimating the Canada Day celebration now draws a crowd of at least 50,000.

Before the Bronte BIA made its announcement Sargent had asked for a town contribution of $88,000 for the 2018 celebration.

The town’s director of recreation and culture, Nina de Vaal, said other logistical supports the BIA was asking for would have put the total funding request well above $100,000.

The 2018 budget committee voted to provide the BIA with a $15,000 event grant, $25,000 worth of support and $1,500 worth of fee waivers.

Sargent noted this was not sufficient and that the Bronte BIA could not hold the celebration any longer if this was all that would be offered.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton says he doesn’t like the idea of the celebration simply not being held this year.

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“I’m going to support this because I don’t want to skip Canada Day,” he said.

Town staff are currently looking at holding a modified evening event, focusing on fireworks at the Bronte Heritage Waterfront Park.

While no significant entertainment, aside from the fireworks, would be provided, staff recommends a variety of small-scale, low-cost activities for the event.

These activities could include:

• Musical and cultural performances by various community groups at the Pavilion in Bronte Heritage Waterfront Park.
• A selection of food trucks and vendors on-site.
• Passive-play games, materials and equipment (for example, outdoor board games, Frisbees, sidewalk chalk, etc.).
• Roaming performers (such as buskers, dancers, magicians).
• Community information and outreach booths.

In previous years the celebration has featured an all-day family festival including musical performances on multiple stages, a vendor village and fireworks to cap off the evening.

“I am going to support this motion and I am going to support it enthusiastically, not because I want to spend $90,000, but because I think the citizens of Oakville vote with their feet and their attendance at these events,” said Ward 5 Coun. Jeff Knoll.

“The kids of Oakville want this fireworks exhibition. They want to celebrate Canada Day and families want to do this together.”

Knoll said council could probably expect a full chamber of angry citizens if they attempted to skip the event.

He also characterized the event as being thrust on the town this year and noted moving forward some kind of long-term strategy would need to be developed concerning how and where this event would be held in the future.

Not everyone was eager for the town to take on the Canada Day event.

Ward 2 Coun. Cathy Duddeck voiced concerns the town was rushing into the situation and spending large amounts of money before arriving at an understanding of how these events will be dealt with going forward.

“I would rather see something in the north if there is an opportunity that way or something similar to what my colleague (Ward 2 Coun. Ray Chisholm) has referenced several times — having a designated area that is for special events,” said Duddeck.

“I don’t see hosting it down there yet again, feeling we are under a deadline. We have already got our staff stretched to the limit in terms of various other special events.”

Chisholm voiced concerns about the amount of money coming out of the tax stabilization fund noting that in addition to the $90,000 for the Canada Day event, $500,000 will be taken out to offset rising minimum wage costs while another $90,000 was be removed to pay for the Rogers Hometown Hockey event.

Ward 4 Coun. Allan Elgar suggested some kind of family friendly Canada Day event be held in the afternoon noting problems that require police and drive up costs tend to happen after dark.

Burton disputed the idea the evening fireworks display wouldn’t be family friendly.

“I have attended this every year and it is parents and their children that come in the thousands and thousands,” he said.

“So let’s not let the idea take root that children aren’t there for the fireworks. It is for the children.”

Ultimately the majority of council voted to hold the event with Duddeck, Elgar, Chisholm and Ward 4 Coun. Roger Lapworth voting against it.

Of the $90,200 requested by town staff for the event, $13,000 would be spent on event support, $7,500 would be spent on advertising, $34,200 would be spent on logistics (road closures, transit, permits, equipment, fire safety, etc.) and $35,500 spent on fireworks.

Burton said town staff is looking at additional options for the Canada Day festival after 2018.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

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