A popular street market that draws thousands to Sidney during the summer months will not happen this year with longer disruptions ahead because of COVID-19.
Sidney has cancelled what would have been the 21st edition of the Sidney Street Market as local officials have been monitoring what a release from the municipality called “messaging” from senior levels of government and public health authorities about events drawing large crowds.
This messaging has led the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to the conclusion that any easing of restrictions on public gatherings would be a “gradual and phased approach” that will still limit large gatherings for months to come in advising event organizers to cancel or postpone both indoor and outdoors events involving public gatherings scheduled for the summer of 2020.
“Consequently, the Town of Sidney has made the difficult decision to cancel the 21st season of the Sidney Street Market,” it reads.
The public had heard earlier this month that the market might still go ahead, but under a very different format, a hope now squashed. It is not clear what sort of economic impact the cancellation of the market will have, but it will likely be significant, as the event draws anywhere between 3,000 to 5,000 people each Thursday night during the summer.
Cancelled plans called for the market to run every Thursday between June 4 to Aug. 27 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Beacon Avenue. The event celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and advertises itself as the largest outdoor market on Vancouver Island.
The release also said that the annual Sidney Days/Canada Day celebrations will not be able to proceed as in the past with municipal officials saying that they are working with the Peninsula Celebrations Society to look at options for what the release called a ” significantly modified event” that would allow residents to celebrate together in spirit while still staying apart.
COVID-19 has already led to the cancellations of several events, with key centres of artistic and culture life closed for the foreseeable future.
Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith thanked event organizers, as well as local arts and culture organizations for their quick response to the threat of COVID-19.
“Sidney rightfully prides itself on its numerous events that bring great vitality and happiness to our community,” he said. “While we all share in the disappointment of event cancellations, I believe we can also take pride in the way we have come together, by staying apart, to protect our community.”
The release said the EOC will “work diligently” with community organizers to facilitate cancelled or postponed events when public health orders and physical distancing limitations have relaxed to the extent that those events can be rescheduled. Within this context, officials are encouraging organizers to reach out to the EOC if they have ideas for a significantly modified events that respect limits on public gatherings and meet social and physical distancing guidelines.
“Although it may be a while until we can organize and celebrate events in ways that we have in the past, I hope that we can work collectively on new and safe ways to come together as a community while still respecting physical and social distancing guidelines,” said Brett Mikkelsen, Sidney’s Fire Chief and EOC director.
The Peninsula News Review reached to Laurie McDermid of Westcoast Impressions for comment and will update this story accordingly.
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