With large crowds prohibited because of COVID-19, Sidney’s Mary Winspear will host a virtual Canada Day event (Black Press Media File)

Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre to host modified Canada Day celebration

Show will consist out of a one-hour pre-recorded film among other community events

Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre will be the virtual centre of local Canada Day celebrations.

According to a report before council Monday, Mary Winspear Centre is working with Peninsula Celebrations Society and the Sidney Business Improvement Area Society on an event called Sidney’s Canada Day Live from the Mary Winspear Centre.

The event will consist out of a one-hour pre-recorded film featuring artists including Aaron Pritchett and Michael Kaeshammer, as well as messages from Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith, community groups and businesses, Town Crier Kenny Podmore and local MP Elizabeth May.

Residents can view the film on the respective websites of the Town of Sidney, the Mary Winspear Centre, the Peninsula Celebrations Society and the Sidney BIA. It will also receive heavy promotion on Facebook.

“The Mary Winspear Centre, Peninsula Celebrations Society, the Sidney Business lmprovement Area Society, and Town staff are confident that with the proper promotion, this feature will reach thousands of people, and will bring much needed light and enjoyment to Sidney residents,” said Paula Kully, Sidney’s communications coordinator, in the report.

The event itself will be part of a program of virtual events and other initiatives including an art contest, a community-wide singing of O Canada, house decorating and others, she said. “Council will be provided with a full program once it has been confirmed,” she said.

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The proposed Canada Day celebrations reflect the cancellations of all major gatherings during the summer of 2020 by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, including Sidney’s Canada Day celebrations, themselves part of Sidney Days, a series of events leading up to July 1.

Kully said members of the Sidney Events Advisory Group (SEAG) have been working on developing alternate events and initiatives to celebrate Canada Day in response to the cancellation.

“Now, more than ever, residents are in need of something to distract them from the anxiety and isolation that has accompanied the pandemic and the need for physical distancing,” she said.

Councillors Monday will consider a request to put $5,000 from its Canada Day budget of some $11,000 towards the Sidney’s Canada Day Live from the Mary Winspear Centre.

According to the report, Sidney BIA and Peninsula Celebrations Society will both contribute $3,000 to $5,000 with funds going toward the artists as well as the necessary technology, promotions and advertising.

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