The City of Victoria will pitch in for police costs for next year’s Canada Day celebration.
The 2019 celebration came under fire when the Victoria Police Department requested more funding in order to cover costs for the event. Due to recent changes in the Victoria Police budget, as decided by council, VicPD no longer had the resources available to cover the costs.
In June council voted to allocate $135,000 from the contingency fund to cover the costs, but needed to vote on how to proceed in future events. Council agreed to boost the budget on Thursday.
Victoria city staff recommended that council increase the cost of Canada Day event operations by $107,000 for the 2020 financial planning process, citing that the event is continually growing and that police needs will remain high.
Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe was in agreement of the suggestion, noting her work in organizing the event with the Intercultural Association for more than a decade.
“We buy insurance with the hope that we never need to use it, but it’s there. That’s the peace police officers bring,” she said. “My feeling is the event will continue to evolve and improve with the times; if we were to reduce the scope I’d be concerned with how to reduce the scope… everyone has a different favourite part.”
Coun. Ben Isitt was opposed to the idea, saying that costs were too high for an event that was wasteful and not fully participatory, and that investing in a daytime event like a folk fest would be more suitable.
“I do think I would favour a very serious consideration of reducing it to a truly daytime event where basically the drunkenness is largely addressed, in terms of unruly general younger people, coming often from the suburbs,” Isitt said.
Isitt questioned the spending on portions of the current Canada Day event, including the $12,000 used to produce one-time use T-shirts for the living flag display.
Senior cultural planner Jeff Day clarified that the T-shirts come out of the pocket of sponsor Coast Capital Savings, which ties the need of the T-Shirts to the rest of its sponsorship funding.
Day also noted that 35 per cent of costs came through public funders, 58 per cent through corporate sponsorship and six per cent through vending and on-site kiosks.
Coun. Sharmarke Dubow was also vocal in his support of Canada Day, recalling that he gained his Canadian citizenship o n July 1, 2017.
“Getting my citizenship meant stability, safety and belonging, and rights and responsibilities, and finally a place to call home,” Dubow said. “I recognize that I am a guest on this beautiful land, that a lot of us are… So how do we celebrate now that we’re all here?”
Council voted five to one to support the extra funding for police costs, with Isitt being the only one to dissent.