City grants over $250,000 to festivals
By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter
Over the next 12 months, there will be an abundance of events on the streets of New Westminster. Recently, the City of New Westminster approved over a quarter-million dollars into festival grants—$272,000 to be exact.
In past years, the spending has been quite tight, but with a $2.6 million increase in the city’s 2016 to 2020 overall financial plan, clearly there’s some flexibility with allocated expenditures. In 2015, around $170,000 was placed aside for festival grants. Thanks to staff recommendation, the 2016 grant has increased by over $100,000.
While some would say it’s a splurge, others would argue that it’s a vital investment.
At a recent council meeting, officials discussed the recommendations, with the majority supporting all of the festival grants. Councillors Chuck Puchmayr and Mary Trentadue shared their opinion on the matter of rising funding for festivals in the city.
“Every year we are being asked for more funding,” Trentadue said to the New Westminster Record. “I can appreciate it is a worthwhile ask, but I am not sure where we stop. I am not sure where we start to say no.”
Puchmayr added that “by making it easy for groups to get city grants, it curtails their need to work harder to seek funding from other sources.”
Nonetheless, council is forging on with plans to invest in the city’s festivals.
Mayor Jonathan Cote, one of the supporters for the grants, said to the New Westminster Record that “the festivals are positive events in the community, providing entertainment for the residents, promoting the city, and benefiting local businesses.” Alongside boosted tourism, these fun and affordable events are guaranteed to bring visitors from around the Lower Mainland to showcase New Westminster.
Usually, grant committees receive requests for significantly more funding than what is available, but 15 local organizations have already been able to secure grants, consisting of cash or city services. Among the chosen handful, there are expected to be many events, including Canada Day fireworks, Show & Shine, Grand Prix, parade and street fairs, and float refresh, thanks to the Hyack Festival Association.
Northwest Fan Fest, marketed as a “celebration of fandom for everyone,” is scheduled to return for its third year, taking place from July 8–10 in the Anvil Centre. This convention promises to be packed with musical performances, comedy shows, massive gaming tournaments, costumes, and a street festival.
Uptown Live, a festival “showcasing the best of BC’s Indie music scene” returns after a year-long hiatus, complete with three performance stages, food selections, and block parties. The event, situated by Royal City Centre and holding a lineup of almost 20 artists, will attract music lovers from across the Lower Mainland.
Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest, the biggest food truck festival in Canada, will be returning. Last August, over 90,000 people attended the food-centric event, and you can expect even more flavour and variety in 2016.
Additional festivals in the year will include the Pride Festival, 12th Street Music Festival, and Sapperton Days.