A beloved annual tradition in Victoria will not take place this year due to COVID-19.
According to Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, with the entire province under a health order that bans gatherings larger than 50 people, Victoria will not be holding its annual Canada Day celebrations on July 1.
“That comes as a big disappointment to me and to many people in our community,” said Helps at a daily briefing Tuesday.
“One of the things that makes Victoria, ‘Victoria’ essentially in the summertime is the music festivals and the events that we have,” she said.
Moving forward, Helps says the city will look into ways of holding smaller groups in local communities to help people celebrate while also abiding by provincial health orders.
“On a more general basis we are looking at ways to continue to celebrate in smaller gatherings, to continue to support people maybe in block party formats, or other ways to get together in appropriate social distances on the street,” she said.
Helps added that the city has reached out to the federal government to try to figure out ways to hold a national Canada Day celebration virtually.
“I know that no festivals this summer will be hard for many people,” she said.
“I’m going to ask our staff to turn their minds to… support people in their own communities in small groups to take advantage of the summer weather and celebrate and get together in a way that is safe and meets public health guidelines.”
The cancellation of Canada Day celebrations is just one of many Vancouver Island events that has been cancelled due to COVID-19.
After 122 years, the annual Victoria Day parade was forced to cancel for the first time ever. Meanwhile, Parksville’s annual Beachfest – which draws international spectators and competitors – was also forced to cancel this year.
Both events regularly brought in millions of dollars to the local economy.