Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Victoria opts to increase Canada Day funding by $250K via property tax increases


Victoria city council has voted in favour of increasing their budget for Canada Day celebrations in the downtown core by $250,000

According to the city report written by Kerri Moore, Director of Business & Community Relations, the funding for this is to come from “ongoing funding through a property tax increase.”

The previous funding for Canada Day celebrations came from a $75,000 Festival Investment Grant (FIG) program the city had launched with an additional $25,000 for a fireworks budget. 

At an August 3rd city council meeting, council passed the motion to increase funding and directed staff to report back on issues. 

Now, on Thursday, September 7th, the motion has been carried through following the staff report. 

Prior to 2006, the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) programmed Canada Day as a part of Victoria Folkfest for more than 30 years. 

Following their time, the City of Victoria took over operations.

According to the city, from 2006 to 2022, only $25,000 in city funding was available for the celebration which helped leverage additional money from corporate sponsors. 

In 2023, the FIG program was born to change the model on how funding became available for such endeavors. With this, the funding was increased to $75,000 with the additional fireworks allotment. 

“The 2023 Canada Day celebration was well received by the community, however, it remained evident that an increasing amount of public and private funding is still required to maintain the quality and scope of the celebration and at times staff and Council’s involvement was sought,” reads the city report by Moore. 

Because corporate sponsors are difficult for the city to procure, council agreed to more than double the funding to a maximum of $250,000 for the 2024 Financial Plan. 

Council says that they would still be open to accepting public funding in order to offset that cost, but by having such a high city budget, they mitigate the risk of not finding external sponsors. 

The existing $100,000 plus the newly allocated $250,000 will go towards:

  • Programming and artist fees 
  • Administration and staffing 
  • Promotions and Online Content 
  • Production costs – stage, lighting, video, power, sound, etc. 
  • Site Costs – toilets, fencing, tents, signage, power, water, etc. 
  • Travel and accommodation 
  • Fireworks 
  • Insurance 
  • City Services support

The funding for this increase is coming from an increase in property taxes in the amount of 0.15%.

City Councillors Jeremy Caradonna and Matt Dell released a statement following the funding approval. 

“In recent years, the Canada Day celebration has underwhelmed,” Dell and Caradonna wrote. 

“It is important that, as the capital city of BC, Victoria showcase its ability to put on large events, organize celebrations that attract folks from around the region, and celebrate the diversity of the country.” 

“The same goes for BC Day, which is also an opportunity to showcase the ability of Victoria to host large cultural events,” they added. 

Dell and Caradonna want nationally recognized artists to come to Victoria on both Canada Day and BC Day and in the spirit of reconciliation, they also want to ensure that renowned Indigenous artists are able to take the stage as well along with both francophone and immigrant representation. 

In 2023, Juno Award-winning singer songwriter Jill Barber headlined the celebration while in 2022, local legend Jesse Roper closed out the show. 

Who would you want to see headline the mainstage given the budget increase?

Curtis Blandy

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