Two key summer events in White Rock may be substantially changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Monday night’s (April 20) meeting, city council directed staff to work towards having a virtual Canada Day By The Bay celebration on July 1 and to plan – in consultation with Semiahmoo First Nation event planners – to move the Sea Festival/Semiahmoo Days celebration from the Aug. 1-3 long weekend to the Sept. 4-6 long weekend.
Final deciding date as to whether there will actually be a Sea Festival/Semiahmoo Days celebration would be July 15.
The city and the SFN are also looking at whether the National Indigenous People’s Day on June 19 will be cancelled or turned into a virtual celebration.
The moves were recommended in a report to council by recreation and culture director Eric Stepura, who cited the potential that the provincial health officer’s ban on events involving more than 50 people could be extended beyond the current May 30 date.
Stepura said the Canada Day celebration could involve using live performance venues in the city to livestream concerts by artists (conducted under physical distancing guidelines), creating a “virtual block party” kit for residents, and encouraging a collective experience such as a city-wide national anthem sing-along after the 7 p.m. tribute to health care workers.
Changing Canada Day to a virtual event would lower the budget from $30,000 to $10,000, he reported, while shifting the date of Sea Festival/Semiahmoo Days would not create any significant change to the budget for the events
Stepura told council that what was to have been one of the busiest years for community special events has already been seriously impacted by the pandemic and the accompanying health and safety restrictions.
Among events already postponed or cancelled this year are the Doctors of BC’s Walk with Your Doc event, the Spring Art Show at the Beach, the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation’s Gala, the White Rock BIA’s Vitality Expo and the Five Corners Buskers and Comedy Festival.
The Tour de White Rock (July 18-19), the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation Picnic on the Pier (Aug. 6) and the Multicultural Society’s Global Block Party (Aug. 15) have all been postponed to 2021.
Stepura also said staff are waiting to hear back from C.H.I.L.D., organizers of the Snowbirds demonstration flight over the city, previously scheduled for Aug. 12, on whether the event will still be held.