Aria Lam and her father, Raymond, were among the 8,000 who attended the Saanich Strawberry Festival in 2017. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich looks at creative alternatives after popular summer events cancelled

Residents likely to be invited to celebrate virtually, at home, mayor says

Saanich staff are looking at alternative ways for residents to participate in popular summer events like the Strawberry Festival.

On May 15, the District announced most annual summer events and celebrations wouldn’t take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic and orders from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry banning gatherings of more than 50 people.

READ ALSO: Saanich squashes summer events including annual Strawberry Festival, music in the park

While the in-person events can’t take place due to the large crowds they draw in, Saanich staff are working on “alternate celebrations” for fan-favourite events, said District spokesperson Megan Catalano.

“Knowing that large public gatherings and events won’t be allowed for some time, community services staff are looking at how we can offer a spin on our popular community events,” she explained.

Mayor Fred Haynes was happy to hear that some of Saanich’s summertime events may be able to move forward in unique ways.

The goal is to “explore creative ways to engage residents,” he said, adding that everyone is trying to make the most of the “new reality.”

READ ALSO: COVID-19 washes out Gorge Canada Day Picnic

Haynes suggested the possibility of celebrating Canada Day and Pride Week online and marking the Strawberry Festival from home with homemade strawberry sundaes made with local berries to “keep the tradition alive.”

Staff don’t have all the details yet but want residents to know they’re “brainstorming creative ways” to host summertime activities and events safely, Catalano said. She added that staff are hoping to have updates for the community “very soon.”


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