The Downtown Penticton Association is looking for an increased partnership with the city when it comes to planning community events.
The association plans and executes multiple events including Canada Day, B.C. Day and Santa Claus Parade celebrations. In a presentation to council on March 5 during committee of the whole, members of the DPA said that the association “does not want to see these events drop” but is looking to share the burden of the costs.
“The biggest and most expensive events that the DPA offers is our civic events,” said Lynn Allin, DPA executive director.“When we come up with a new event or initiative, the question the board always asks is how it will benefit the membership. How does having a Canada Day event actually benefit the business community? And the benefits aren’t black and white on this.”
Allin said while the DPA receives limited funding through the city and federal grants, the bulk of the cost of these events comes out of the DPA’s operations. Allin said the DPA’s main source of income is its membership fee and the community market, which runs weekly from May to September.
“The city does put in for $4,500 per year for the cost of Canada Day,” said Allin. “And $1,100 for B.C. Day and $8,000 for Rock the Sun. Historically, the money has always gone into operations and operations has always covered the cost of running the civic events, plus regular operation of the DPA.”
Mayor John Vassilaki was concerned with the actual budget breakdown for each event, so that council could have as much information as possible when making a decision whether to help fund them.
Allin said she can provide the breakdown but in total, the association spends approximately $141,000 annually on civic events (based on 2018 numbers). Even with current funding help from the city and federal grants, the bill comes out to about $111,555 for the association.
“I’m sure city council doesn’t want to see any of these items dropped. It wouldn’t be very good for the community for one thing, so what I would like to get (the budget breakdowns) to staff,” said Vassilaki. “And my personal preference would be to refer this to city staff so they can bring us a recommendation at the next meeting.”
“We believe the city needs to have these events, and we are willing to work with the city to at least have a way this year and next year to bring them to the community,” responded Allin. “But we are a business organization, and if the city has a different way it would like to bring forward civic events…we are happy to pass the binders and let it go onto somebody else.”
Ryan Graham, president of the DPA board, reiterated that the association recognizes the importance of these events for the community.
“These events are important to our city as a whole. For us, we want to continue with them moving forward, but there has to be a partnership,” said Graham. “The DPA wants to go in with these events know that the city is our partner with them and that we can continue giving them.”
Coun. Judy Sentes reminded council that it could be potentially more expensive for the city to take over these events entirely. Sentes noted staff time with the city is unionized and DPA members are paid “well below that” for their efforts.
“I’ve been involved with the DPA as a city liaise for a number of years, and before that as a volunteer,” said Sentes. “I’m not entirely certain that giving a full breakdown of all the costs would really be that beneficial. From my perspective, if you were to have the city take over these events, the costs would be significantly higher I’d like to suggest.
“It’s interesting, for years our city has taken recognition for these wonderful events, when in fact, our contribution has been significantly low. The DPA is just raising to our attention and resolution that they’ve been doing this, but it means there’s no money left to do things for their own membership.”
Council will receive a recommendation from staff about this proposed partnership and funding request at the next regular meeting on March 19.
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