DWBIA pulls funding for Santa, Canada Day parades

Two popular parades in Windsor might have to look a little different for 2020. 

The Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association has ended its sponsorships of the Canada Day and Santa Claus parades through downtown Windsor. 

The DWBIA partnered with the Windsor Parade Corporation to hold the 2018 and 2019 set of parades, bringing thousands of spectators to the core after more than a decade of the parades held elsewhere in the city. 

According to DWBIA chair Brian Yeomans, the membership has decided to support other opportunities. 

"For a number of valid reasons, including economic, we are opting to support other ventures and opportunities that directly benefit our members," said Yeomans in a release. 

"It has been a pleasure to sponsor both Parades these past couple of years, which are both spectacular. They're a testament to the hard work and passion of the Windsor Parade Corporation."

CBC

The parades cost the DWBIA about $40,000 a year.

According to Dave Grimaldi, executive director of the Windsor Parade Corporation, without the funding there will be no parades.

"There is always hope," said Grimaldi. "But we have to go back and look at the importance of this place in the City of Windsor. City council has obviously made a decision that Christmas time is important to the citizens of Windsor, with the big event at Jackson Park. I don't think it's too much to expect that $25,000 [be given] to put on a Christmas parade."

Grimaldi, who has been involved with the parade organization for about 15 years, said the parades are non-profit events. 

"We don't make any money. I don't think it's fair to all of these volunteers who go out and spend all that time free of charge to put on this festival," said Grimaldi, adding that a lot of the volunteers are retired first responders. 

Yeomans said the parades would still be welcome downtown, provided their news sponsor wanted to keep them where they were. 

Dale Molnar/CBC

"We're most certainly looking forward to the new ventures we have in store that will engage our business owners, residents and visitors," said Yeomans. 

To Grimaldi, there needs to be a commitment on behalf of the city — and that being bounced from one BIA to another shouldn't be the way forward.

"I think it's that simple," said Grimaldi. "This has to fall on the responsibility of the mayor and city council."

Prior to the DWBIA bringing the parades downtown in 2018, the Santa Parade ran through Sandwich Towne and was sponsored by that BIA. The Canada Day Parade was previously supported financially by the Wyandotte Towne BIA. 

According to Grimaldi, other municipalities sponsor the Canada and Santa parades in those towns because they "see it's worth it to the citizens."

"The city needs to make a decision," said Grimaldi. "Either they want to continue the tradition or they don't."