Rising costs force some communities to rethink Canada Day parades

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The Enfield, Elmsdale & District Lions Club has been organizing the local Canada Day parade for about 40 years. (Enfield, Elmsdale & District Lions Club/Facebook - image credit)
The Enfield, Elmsdale & District Lions Club has been organizing the local Canada Day parade for about 40 years. (Enfield, Elmsdale & District Lions Club/Facebook - image credit)

Peter Jeffery has been organizing his local Canada Day parade in East Hants, N.S., for 25 years, but he says rising costs and waning community support have put the brakes on the event this year.

The parade typically goes from Elmsdale to Enfield, where the festivities continue at the Lions Club, said Jeffery, the president of the district chapter.

"The parade itself takes a lot of planning and it has quite a bit of cost to it," Jeffery said. "It's evolved over the years to what we had right up until just prior to COVID."

Jeffery said financial help has been declining for years and fewer volunteers have stepped up to help organize and carry out the event.

Enfield, Elmsdale & District Lions Club/Facebook
Enfield, Elmsdale & District Lions Club/Facebook

"It ended up with just us trying to pull things together," he said, adding that funding from the federal government hasn't risen as costs for the celebrations — from fireworks to insurance — have increased drastically.

A new requirement for federal funding that guarantees the event will happen prompted Jeffery to pull the plug on the event last fall, he said.

Other cities, towns in same spot

Jeffery isn't alone. Several cities and towns say rising costs and funding woes have them rethinking their parades.

In Montreal, there will be no Canada Day parade for the third year running. Canada Day celebrations will take place with events at the Old Port.

In Strathcona County, Alta., the Sherwood Park and District Chamber of Commerce announced in May that the Canada Day parade would not take place as a result of the increased costs of physical infrastructure, insurance and security obligations.

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority won't have a parade or fireworks, citing "rising costs for safety and security, and across the events industry," adding that it would instead focus on other events.

Banff, Alta., made the decision to replace its parade with a day of activities and performances.

Some taking a new approach

Last year, many cities opted to cancel Canada Day events after the discovery of unmarked graves at sites of former residential schools. While most events are resuming this year, some cities, such as Winnipeg and Thunder Bay, have chosen to observe Canada Day with cultural programming rather than celebratory events such as parades and fireworks.

Halifax has partnered with the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre and local artists to host 'Kana'ta-HFX Canada Day 2022,' which the city says will honour the Indigenous community. The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo will be hosting its Canada Day parade.

Jeffery said he hopes to get the Elmsdale-Enfield parade up and running again next year.

"We don't want to see this event die," he said.

He said planning for next year's event would have to start in August to secure funding from the federal government.

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