Two signature community events – the Cloverdale Blueberry Festival and the annual Halloween costume parade – will be put on hold this year, as the Cloverdale BIA grapples with budget constraints, and shifts focus to other priorities.
The board voted Monday night to shelve two of its most popular events in 2015, in hopes of bringing both events back next year.
Soaring operational costs and lack of sponsorships forced the Cloverdale BIA to postpone the events, but the association will set up a fundraising committee in order to seek additional sources of revenue.
“We have created some amazing events and we cannot sustain them,” executive director Paul Orazietti told BIA members gathered at the annual general meeting, calling the decision to cancel the “signature events” a “one-time correction.”
“We need to have a lot more money and we need a lot more sponsorships to help,” he added.
The April 6 AGM was called to approve a revised 2015 budget, and hold a re-election of officers.
The City of Surrey had deemed there was insufficient detail provided to the association’s membership on this year’s budget, as presented July 9, 2014.
The revised budget allocates more resources towards beautification projects and attracting new businesses.
Topping the priority list is to continue the planning process on installing long-awaited gateway signage, starting with a “Welcome to Cloverdale” sign at the northwest corner of Highway 15 and Highway 10, an intersection that sees an average of 75,000 vehicles a day.
The BIA is working with the City of Surrey on a number of other beautification initiatives as well, including a landscaping project along Highway 10 near 180 Street that’s in the works for 2015.
The revised budget also sets out more money and resources for business recruitment, and earmarks additional funds for communications projects and safety and security.
With the newly-revised budget approved, the BIA will be is setting up a mobile HD camera program to deter crime and enhance security, Orazietti said.
Meanwhile, the board will be open to sponsorships that might save the blueberry festival, which celebrated its 11th anniversary last August.
Highlights included the Surrey Show ‘n Shine car show, community pancake breakfasts, blueberry pie sales by the Cloverdale United Church, an arts festival, live music and dance performances, a local vendors market and plenty of family fun.
“If somebody came to the table, we’d definitely look at it,” Orazietti said.
“We’ll see if there is any emotional attachment to the event, to bring sponsors forward.”
The Cloverdale BIA and the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce have historically partnered to co-sponsor a number of high-profile community events in the historic town centre.
As they’ve grown in size and popularity, security and traffic control costs have skyrocketed. Orazietti said the Cloverdale BIA’s cost to hold the blueberry festival was $50,000.
“This year, unfortunately, we didn’t have the cash resources to hold it,” he said, explaining circumstances in 2015 mean the event would have lost about $30,000-worth in sponsorship revenue.
Each October, hundreds of children and their parents attend the annual Halloween Costume Parade, a supervised trick-or-treat parade to local businesses that’s family-friendly, and takes place during the daytime.
The popularity created traffic control issues, a significant, added cost.
“Due to the volume of children that were coming to the event, we would require traffic control people at each intersection,” Orazietti said.
Other co-sponsored events will continue, starting with Rodeo Days in May, featuring the 38th annual Cloverdale Bed Races, decorated bike parade, chili cook off and Cloverdale Rodeo Parade.
It’s hoped Surrey’s Santa Parade of Lights in December will be also be going ahead, however for the past two years, the Cloverdale BIA has had to drum up thousands of dollars in sponsorships to cover costs.