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Special events set to return to Sidney parks starting in May

Cost, availability of portable toilets a roadblock for some smaller events
Several music-themed events are returning to Sidney’s Beacon Park for 2022, but the costs of portable toilets has led some organizers to withdraw applications. (Black Press Media file photo)

Several familiar special events are returning to the Saanich Peninsula starting in mid-May, but the costly provision of portable toilets has discouraged others.

Bruce DeMaere, Sidney’s manager of engineering, said in a staff report addressed Monday (April 25) the municipality has received an “influx of applications” for the use of public parks and facilities for events following the lifting of pandemic restrictions.

He added that special events that include food services or which expect to draw moderate crowds over a longer period have to provide portable toilets, but not everyone can secure them.

“Some organizers of the smaller scale community events have reported the costs and challenges of providing portable toilets are too prohibitive, resulting in some organizers withdrawing event applications,” he said.

The municipality is currently planning for a new public washroom facility along the waterfront and DeMaere predicted that would help with events in Beacon Park, which tends to see the majority of applications.

DeMaere told councillors Monday the facility is still being designed, with construction scheduled to start later this year and be completed in early 2023.

Relaxing the requirement for portable toilets may place undue pressure on the use of washrooms of local businesses, he added, but would also help support smaller scale events.

When asked by Coun. Terri O’Keeffe whether the municipality had looked into absorbing the costs of providing portable toilets for the summer, DeMaere said staff had inquired about rentals, but have not received much feedback. “(The construction industry) has a big handle on them,” he said, adding that an accessible, portable toilet would cost about $3,000 to purchase, with operational and maintenance costs on top.

Also on Monday council voted to waive provisions of the municipality’s noise bylaw concerning amplified sound for seven special events this summer, six of which in Beacon Park.

Spring events kick off Thursday, May 19, when middle and secondary school music students from School District 63 will perform in the park, with the show starting at 9 a.m. and running through 1 p.m. The Festive Brass Ensemble will also perform.

Then, the skateboard park in Tulista Park will host skaters of various age groups on May 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for a competition and BBQ.

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Cascadia Seaweed Corp., in partnership with their brand Kove Ocean Food, will host a mindfulness morning on June 4 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Beacon Park.

The event will guide participants through guided meditation and yoga stretches, finishing with a plunge into the ocean at Glass Beach. Amplified soft music will play throughout the event.

On June 11 Beacon Park will host three local cover bands playing contemporary music in a fundraiser for the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank from noon to 4 p.m. The following day the park will host children’s piano recitals from 2 to 3 p.m.

On Saturday, June 18, Will + Wheel Hair Lounge will host a pride picnic on the lawn of Beacon Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Plans call for a local cafe to provide lunches, subject to the availability of portable toilets.

The Salish Sea Lantern Festival, organized by the ArtSea Community Arts Council will also return to Beacon Park on Aug. 20 with the event running from 6 to 10 p.m.

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