Nanaimo skies will light up for Canada’s 150th birthday bash, thanks to City of Nanaimo funding.
The Canada 150 Nanaimo Celebration Organizing Committee will get an extra $75,000 from the city for fireworks, events and a musical production to mark the country’s sesquicentennial. It brings the city’s contribution to the committee to $110,000 – more than nine times the annual budget for July 1.
The city allots $12,000 each year for Canada Day, but in an e-mail Deborah Duncan, the city’s manager of financial planning, said it’s usually offset by revenues collected from vendors, sponsors or senior government grants. In 2016, the net cost was $228. This year’s contribution will augment that Canada Day budget.
The upcoming celebration is set to last 10 days, expanding on the city’s July 1 festivities. People can listen to a 150-person choir, see the HMCS Nanaimo of the Royal Canadian Navy and watch fireworks explode over the harbour. The organizing committee has a $283,000 budget to plan the party with money also expected to come from sources such as private sponsors and grants.
A city report, discussed at a council meeting Monday, states the committee continues to pursue other funding, but is in a position where financial commitments have to be made in the short term, including to secure a company to provide fireworks and deposits to the production company for Bathtubs and Black Stones: a Musical Revue.
Wally Wells, committee-co-chair, said they do not have enough money to do the things they want, which is why they are asking for an additional $75,000. If the city is not able to supply the funding, he said they will have to look at what they can do, but they will have an event and a very good one.
The $20,000 of the extra funding is to build the musical and pay for things like costumes, with rehearsals at the city-owned Vancouver Island Conference Centre.
Coun. Jerry Hong said people will say the city is buffing up its revenues by giving itself the money and paying itself back.
“If it’s going to be free and we’re going to get it back let’s just give it to them for free,” said Hong, who also hopes the Port Theatre sees the value of the show and reduces costs to contribute to the “wellbeing of Nanaimo and the 150.”
Coun. Diane Brennan said $75,000 is not a lot of money and she sees it as a worthwhile project, but can’t see the point in asking the conference centre or Port Theatre to waive fees “because in the end, we simply make that up anyway.”
Council unanimously agreed to the funding.
Diana Johnstone, organizing committee co-chair, said they’re extremely pleased because the board of directors was anxious to fulfill contracts.
“It’s a big celebration and I think the city wants it to be special for our citizens,” she said.
For more information on the celebration, please visit www.nanaimo150.com.