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Collingwood staff eyeing 2020 summer events line-up to determine next steps

‘Canada Day is the first event we will be looking at to either modify, or launch a plan b,’ said director of parks, recreation and culture
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Canada Day 2019 in Collingwood. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday files

While no official decision has been made yet by the Town of Collingwood to cancel summer festivals and events, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Culture Dean Collver said this week staff are working on plans should provincial orders prevent them from going on.

“At the time when staff have created a plan b and it is ready and appropriate to be implemented, an announcement will be made,” said Collver. “Canada Day is the first event we will be looking at to either modify, or launch a plan b.”

Collver says all third-party events that were planned to take place on town property or in town facilities have been notified that these amenities are not available due to the provincial emergency orders.

“Regarding funding, the only funding that we have provided has been either through in-kind or through the Community Recreation and Culture Grant which provides support for programs and, at times, some events,” said Collver. “On this front, we are preparing a report for council to be delivered in May.”

Collver said the town does not count on revenue from local events to cover normal operating costs, so the cancellation of events wouldn’t impact the town coffers directly.

“For town-operated events, these are viewed within the total budget as a net expense – the revenues lost would have a relationship to expenses that are not taken on in the absence of the event,” said Collver.

Director of Marketing and Business Development Martin Rydlo said town staff is in the process of analyzing information from business surveys from both Simcoe County as well as the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario before formulating a plan for Collingwood.

“Tourism, along with the overall hospitality sector, is certainly one of the hardest hit,” said Rydlo.

Rydlo says the silver lining is the food and beverage sector is still able to operate locally at a basic level of service for pick-up and delivery options as well as online sales.

“Supporting these efforts that keep the cash flow coming in at some basic level is critical, which is why the town is supporting the #CollingwoodStrong and Collingwood Commons effort,” said Rydlo.

On Monday the Collingwood Commons resource portal launched, which seeks to connect residents with local businesses which are still open at which to shop or eat. For more information on Collingwood Commons project, click here.

Looking ahead, Rydlo says town staff and the economic support and recovery task force are working to evaluate options.

“(They) are actively evaluating... best practices in order to adjust the ways festivals and events are organized in a post-COVID-19 environment where a level of social distancing is still required,” he said.

Overall, the estimated economic impact of tourism across Simcoe County is $1 billion annually.

According to the province, Celebrate Ontario funding grants – which typically are announced in May and have supported local events such as the Collingwood Elvis Festival and Art on the Street – will still be flowing.

“In addition to funding events for 2020, we are also honouring commitments from Celebrate Ontario 2019 for events cancelled in March,” said Leighanne Neilson, spokesperson for the ministry of heritage, sport, tourism and culture. “These investments will help to maintain the capacity of the festivals and events sector so that Ontario is well-positioned to welcome back visitors once it is safe to do so.”