Coquitlam residents will be able to hop in their cars for a drive-thru party on Canada Day — and park at a makeshift drive-in to see a live show in July — as part of the city’s summer celebrations in Year 2 of the pandemic.
But attendees will have to sign up for the civic gatherings in advance to adhere to the provincial government’s health rules.
Monday, city staff told council-in-committee about the upcoming gatherings planned for Coquitlam residents as the physical-distancing restrictions ease with the roll-out of the mass vaccination program around B.C.
In anticipation of the regulations being relaxed, the city plans to offer a mix of virtual and limited in-person events in July and August:
• Canada Day: motorists can take a drive-thru around the Douglas College parking lot to hear DJ music, see roving performers and get information about local multi-cultural groups on July 1; participants will also get a Canada Day kit to decorate their vehicle
• Summer Concert Series: registrants can go to a drive-in to watch one of four live shows in July, which will be recorded and posted online; the shows may pivot to a limited in-person event, if permitted
• Kaleidoscope Arts Festival: returning to its original mid-August date, the city will open the annual fest to a limited number of registrants to see the music and arts entertainment
As well, to keep community gatherings small, the city will boost its grants for block parties from $150 to $300. City staff believe the number of applications will double this year for neighbourhood gatherings.
“We find ourselves at an interesting point now in terms of public health,” Coun. Craig Hodge told the committee on April 19. “What the directives are going to be and really where society, in general, is going to be even three months from now…. we just don’t know where things are going to go. Are we going to see things open up, or are we going to see restrictions continue? We don’t know.”
Coun. Teri Towner said she saw how the Northside Foursquare Church, on Lansdowne Drive, hosted outdoor concerts safely for its parishioners last summer, with attendees socially distanced from each other.
And she encouraged residents to hold block parties and hire local musicians. “It’s hard for a lot of us to believe we’re heading into our second summer of a global pandemic,” she said.
CULTURAL SUMMIT, WINTER LIGHTS
As for the annual cultural summit, the meeting planned for this year will be bumped to next fall; however, planning for Lights at Lafarge is set to begin in September, when the health guidelines around large gatherings are more clear.
Last year’s scaled-back civic events cost $141,000 to stage — about a quarter of what council had budgeted — and that amount was further offset with a $45,000 grant from Heritage Canada, according to a city staff report.
Staff have also applied for a $16,500 grant from the federal ministry for Canada Day 2021.
The provincial government banned large gatherings last May. Since then, the city has developed safety guidelines for community events that include a COVID-19 questionnaire; those guidelines were tested at the drive-thru tree chips in January, with the Coquitlam Kinsmen and the Friends of Mundy Park.