Canada Day is still a few months away but preparations for the city’s big two-day event at Battle of Beaverdams Park are already underway.
There’s only question that still needs to be answered: who will organize the event?
Ahead of this week’s city council meeting, City Hall prepared a report that identified four possible companies to do the job.
But there was just one problem: only one of those companies is based in Niagara.
“My concern if we do this is that we take away from our local musicians and maybe our local businesses that participate in the Canada Day weekend,” said Councillor Nella Dekker, during Tuesday’s council meeting.
And other councillors agreed.
“I like to keep it local myself,” said Councillor Mike De Divitiis. “I think we should take control ourselves just like we did last year, just for now to cut the cost down. It went over great last year.”
As an alternative solution, City Hall proposed hiring a special events coordinator from May until December. That person would then also help organize the Santa Claus Parade.
The contract position would be funded with the $50,000 set aside in the 2023 City Budget for special events.
Councillor Tim O’Hare said that the person hired could then also help with the farmer’s market the city is trying to put on this summer.
“It just seems to make sense if we want someone who really understands the local hacks, the local needs, then this might be the best solution,” he said.
The city’s Director of Community Services, Geoff Holman, was asked by Councillor Anthony Longo how long it would take to find somebody.
“It’s just a matter of posting the position and going through the proper references,” Holman answered. “That might take a month but at least we’ll have a local person who will have access to the local contacts and guide us through the process.”
And with that, councillors unanimously voted to hire a special events coordinator for the Canada Day weekend, the Santa Claus Parade, and the city’s farmer’s market.
“If we keep it in house, we keep it local, we keep control,” said Councillor Longo, in closing. “There’s nobody to blame except ourselves if it doesn’t work.”
Also discussed during Tuesday’s meeting was the alcohol policy for the two-day Canada Day celebration.
“The first day being more of a family day type of event there might be some interest in having an alcohol-free day,” Holman told councillors. “The second day is a little more causal and there has traditionally been alcohol served.”
But councillors said they preferred if the bar already opened at 4 p.m. on the first day of the celebratory weekend.
“I think it’s a good policy maybe to not serve until then,” said Councillor De Divitiis. “After 4, you get a lot more adults in the park, a lot more people. You have to be like every other festival, they are all serving. You got a wide range of people going there.”
Councillor Longo said he’d been approached by the Thorold Legion, who would like to man the bar so they can raise money to fix their leaking roof. An idea all councillors seemed enthusiastic about.
With the alcohol policy decided, now all City Hall needs to do is hire a special events coordinator.