The Festival of Lights is an annual staple in Summerland. (Brennan Phillips/Western News)

The Festival of Lights is an annual staple in Summerland. (Brennan Phillips/Western News)

Summerland’s Festival of Lights potentially downsizing for 2021

Council denies $30,000 funding request, calling for a reduced event size amid COVID concerns

Summerland’s 2021 Festival of Lights may not be as bright as in past years.

At Monday’s meeting, city council heard from Chamber of Commerce president Ron Kubek on a $30,000 request to help fund the Festival of Lights which takes place in November.

While the funding request was denied, a motion for the chamber to “present alternative reduced Festival of Lights events for the 2021 season” was passed unanimously.

Coun. Erin Trainer shared the same sentiment as most council members: “I’m definitely supportive of this event … at this point, I can’t see it being pulled off just because of the restrictions and the uncertainty right now.”

The recent COVID-19 restrictions were a primary talking point for whether the festival could go forward, with concerns about how attendance could be monitored in order to adhere to Interior Health guidelines.

“The idea of having thousands of people congregating on two streets in our community … is a little bit daunting to me, ” Carlson said. “Even though you’re outdoors it doesn’t mean it’s safe.”

B.C. Provincial Health announced Aug. 20 further COVID-19 restrictions in the Interior region following a large uptick in COVID cases.

These restrictions include limiting the size of public outdoor gatherings to no more than 100 people.

READ MORE: B.C. records 641 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday as restrictions return

Coun. Marten Van Alphen called supporting the festival in its current state “a gamble,” with other council members resonating concerns about what restrictions could be in place come November.

Coun. Doug Homes said he doesn’t believe we’re “out of the woods yet,” adding that the city needs to “plan with [uncertainty] in mind.”

Kubek echoed the concerns of the council, calling the future of restrictions fluid and that the chamber is planning the festival with that in mind.

“We will be proceeding to sprint for the next three months, always with a mind on … how do we best support all of Summerland businesses and keep our residents safe at the same time,” Kubek said.

One proposal made by council was to host smaller weekly events that would be able to support the safety of the community while still providing the best Festival of Lights experience possible.

The Chamber of Commerce meets on Thursday with Kubek saying they will discuss changes to the event in accordance with the council’s motion.

READ MORE: COVID hospitalization rate 17 times higher among unvaccinated individuals: B.C. CDC


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