Report proposing supporting both Canada Day events passes

City moving forward with support for Legion event at Kinsmen Park and multicutural council event on the riverbank

A pair of dancers celebrate Canada Day in front of the main stage at Kinsmen Park in this file photo from July 1, 2016. -- Herald file photo.

City council will support two Canada Day celebrations in 2019.

In a report approved at Monday’s City Council executive committee meeting, the parks department confirmed there was enough money in the budget to support two separate celebrations hosted by two separate groups at two separate locations.

Since the administrative report was accepted without debate by the executive committee Monday, that means the city can move forward with supporting both events. A total of $7,500 was budgeted for the joint celebration in the form of waived fees. The city’s report estimated a cost of about $2,500 in waived fees for the Legion, plus a contingency fee of $1,030, and about $2,800 for PAMC, with the same contingency.

The difference between the two applications is PAMC plans to hire two commissionaires for the event, while the Legion’s application only called for one.

“Both organizations have a plan on moving forward and both locations would be well-served by the funding that has already been approved for these celebrations,” staff wrote in the report.

On Feb. 11, the PAMC announced at council that they would no longer take part in Canada Day at Kinsmen Park. Instead, they planned to return to the riverfront, where they held their own celebrations prior to 2013. However, Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 2, which has organized the annual Canada Day event in Kinsmen Park since 1966, said they have no plans to move the annual event.

For decades, the Legion organized the Canada Day celebrations on their own to provide an event for families who couldn’t afford to leave town for the holiday.

That changed six years ago when the city asked the Legion if the PAMC could also have their event at Kinsmen Park due to concerns about the riverbank’s stability.

In requesting a return to the riverbank, PAMC cited noise complaints received from residents who live near Kinsmen Park and a desire to showcase the river and promote reconciliation and awareness.

The Legion believes certain parts of the event can continue to be held at Kinsmen Park, where the event originated.

City staff was tasked with presenting a report on the viability of supporting both celebrations.

“We sat down with both grou[s to make sure we knew what they were looking for. When we were able to confirm the details with them, we were then able to establish what we did have sufficient funding to support both,” said Jody Boulet, director of community services.

“We will proceed to support both those applications with the Legion and the multicultural council.”

While the city is supporting both applications this year, it is also using them as an opportunity to see how each of the locations are able to accommodate the festivities.

“We have some previous history with hosting the Canada Day celebrations on the riverbank, but it has been some time,” Boulet said.

“The second commitment we made to council was once the celebrations happen, we’ll have a debrief with both organizations and see how things went. Then, we’ll make sure we put a report forward outlining the success and things we could reconsider in the future if need be.”

The report also indicated the city will examine if there is any chance in the future for an “opportunity that makes sense to both groups to participate together.”

Boulet said that might take the form of facilitating a joint funding application.

“The other point we’ve been looking at for future celebrations is how the federal funding is applied for,” he said.

“Right now there are multiple applications coming out of the city through different organizations. There is potentially an opportunity to centralize that application through the city in support of both organizations.”

This year, both organizations applied to the Celebrate Canada fund, which provides grants for community-based activities celebrating and promoting Canada Day. Typically, only one grant is approved per community. To ensure continued funding, the city is considering helping to facilitate a single grant application.

That doesn’t, though, necessarily mean re-combining the events.

“We’re always open to partnerships when they are available, but we also respect the fact that we have two really beautiful locations where the celebration can be hosted.  We’re open to that in 2019 and we’re going to work through those details leading up to July 1.”