While organizers admit timing is tight, White Rock may still have a Festival of Lights at the waterfront this winter.
White Rock council has given a conditional stamp of approval to a scaled-down version of the original plan – on the continued understanding that the event will not be at the city’s expense.
Festival proponent Gary Gumley of Community Clicks Media Group was back before council Monday night as it mulled a staff report on the revised plan for creating lighting displays from the White Rock to Memorial Park and the Museum Plaza from Dec. 6 to Jan. 5.
Recreation and culture director Eric Stepura told council Gumley has raised a budget of $10,000 plus $20,000 in pledges for services-in-kind for social media and print marketing for a first 2019 event.
When originally proposed to council on July 22 – and greenlighted for a staff report – the event was budgeted at $50,000, contingent on Western Economic Development-Canadian Experiences Fund grants the organizers had applied for.
After learning in September that the bid for the funding was unsuccessful, Gumley developed the current scaled-back version of the festival – now approved by council, subject to provincial electrical permits and details of the electrical plan and installation design and process being worked out with the engineering and municipal operations department.
“I’m very (cognizant) of the fact that it’s a very short timeline,” Gumley told councillors, in answer to a question from Coun. Erika Johanson. “But I really do feel that the opportunity is available to do it inside the parameters that I’ve proposed.”
In response to further questioning from Coun. David Chesney as to whether there was a ‘drop-dead date’ at which it would be clear the funding was not in place to proceed, Gumley said there was no impediment to going ahead outside of meeting staff requirements.
“We’re ready to go now – we have the funding in place to do the plans I’ve outlined here,” Gumley said.
“It’s a staged development plan, depending on the amount of funding we get in.”
The only drop-dead dates, he said, would be if contractor Star Illuminations was not able to block in time to install the lighting equipment or if the supplier of live trees proposed for the event was unable to provide them – which would be known by Nov. 15.
For the Memorial Park, and plaza area adjacent to the museum, the festival proposes to borrow – and pay for the installation of – two 30-foot aluminum-frame Christmas trees and up to 10 ‘seahorse’ lighting units already owned by the White Rock BIA.
The festival also plans to bring in a display of six-foot live trees at Memorial Park and throughout Memorial Plaza, for which businesses, families and individuals will be able to purchase decoration rights – with tree lights supplied by the festival.
A further family-oriented component of the festival will be the creation of a ‘Lamplighter’s Meadow,” in the grassy area of Memorial Park, where families will be invited to place their own holiday-season lanterns in a program similar to Coquitlam’s ‘Park Sparks’ at Lights at Lafarge.
The lower part of the stadium-like steps at the Memorial Park plaza will be decorated and lit as a ‘choir platform’ for live choral groups and other entertainment acts during the festival, while a ‘Lit Arch Trail’ of arch lighting will illuminate the footpath at the top of the park.
A further plan, to light the White Rock with a projection tracing the history of the Semiahmoo First Nation and ‘The Legend of the White Rock (P’Quals)’ is also contemplated – and has received initial approval from SFN – although Gumley acknowledged this would depend on a successful bid for an additional $25,000 in funding from the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada.
In his written report to council, Stepura noted that although there is no expectation the city will be asked for funding to stage the festival, as a city ‘C-category’ event, it is likely there will be requests for city services such as power, use of event equipment, washroom maintenance and waste removal services.