Victoria council approves increased funding to maintain size of Canada Day celebrations
In a five-to-one vote, Victoria city council approved of an increase to its special events operations budget of $107,000.00 in 2020 to continue with the city's current scale of Canada Day celebrations.
Council was presented with the recommendation to incresase Canada Day funding by city staff to ensure the annual celebration would remain intact for next year. There was some concern that celebrations would have to be scaled back due to the cost of policing the event.
“It was already paid for in the police budget but now, due to the police budget discussions, the city will have to pick up that cost,” said Victoria Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe.
“It goes back to ensuring public safety for a very large event.”
The lone dissenting vote to increased funding was Councillor Ben Isitt.
Isitt said he would favour a very serious consideration of reducing the scope of the celebration to just a daytime event. He did not support increased spending but did support the city staff’s alternate recommendation of limiting the financial impact of the evet.
“I think its scale is getting beyond the ability of taxpayers in the inner city to pay,” said Isitt. “I would favour a robust discussion to ensure that the event in the future more closely aligns with the values of the community.”
The commitment of increased Canada Day funding by council is limited to the 2020 financial planning process.
“The planning that we have done for 2020 can still go on,” said Thornton-Joe. “ It still leaves uncertainty for future years.”
Council expects to begin discussing future Canada Day budgets in early 2020 and hopes to include input from local Indigenous communities. It is hoped that through the course of upcoming discussion that the city will be in a better position to plan next year's Canada Day celebrations and beyond.