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COVID-19 pandemic's impact on Port Moody events continue

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cloud planning for special events in Port Moody.
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A staff report recommends the return of Port Moody's car-free day be delayed until 2023.

It’s shaping up to be a quiet fall and winter in Port Moody, and a full line-up of city events may not be back in place until 2023.

According to a report to be presented to council at its meeting on Tuesday (Sept. 28), staff is recommending a cautious approach to bringing back community events due to ongoing uncertainty about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Devin Jain, Port Moody’s manager of cultural services, said even if the pandemic situation eases and the province goes ahead with the fourth phase of its restart plan with fewer restrictions and larger public gatherings, time is running out to plan and promote annual celebrations like Holiday Cheer at the Pier.

As a result, he’s recommending the event, which costs the city about $16,500 to stage, be put on hold until 2022.

The arrival of the CP Holiday Train in mid-December, that is marked with family activities, crafts and live entertainment, is also uncertain. But it’s not because of city reticence or budget constraints.

Jain said the city hasn’t yet heard if the visit is a go.

Several events scheduled for 2022, like the annual appreciation barbecue for community volunteers, the city’s presence at the Fingerling Festival, the community fair and Canada Day celebrations, are being recommended to return.

But, said Jain, they would have to be funded, as their costs had been suspended from the 2020 and 2021 budgets when they were cancelled by the pandemic.

One event that isn’t likely to return until 2023 is Car Free Day.

Jain said the single-day celebration that closes a stretch of St. Johns Street to vehicle traffic so visitors can enjoy family activities like live music, roving performers, a rock climbing wall, bike rodeo and beer gardens, is the city’s most expensive.

While about half its $110,000 could be recouped through sponsorship, he added that might be difficult to attain given the struggles local businesses have endured through the past 18 months of pandemic lockdowns and public health restrictions. 

As a result, the city would likely have to foot the entire cost of staging the event next summer, something staff couldn’t recommend.