British Columbia

Street festivals in Vancouver face uncertain future as operating costs rise

Street festivals in Vancouver, like Italian Day and Car Free Day, face an uncertain future as operating costs rise.

Organizers say security costs are rising and waste management bills have doubled in recent years

Participants carry a massive Canada Flag through downtown Vancouver during the 2017 Canada Day Parade. (John Parisella/CBC)

After the Port of Vancouver announced this week it was cancelling its annual Canada Day Parade due to rising costs, other popular local events say they too face similar cost crunches and an uncertain future. 

Italian Day Festival organizer Brunella Gaudio said its June 10 street festival, which attracts thousands to Commercial Drive's Little Italy neighbourhood, is growing more expensive to operate due to higher waste management bills and security costs. 

"Absolutely it is [getting more difficult]," Gaudio said. "This year we squeaked through." 

Italian Day on Commercial Drive never fails to draw a crowd. (CBC)

Gaudio said the waste management bill doubled from $11,000 to $22,000 this year, and quotes for policing and security also rose.

"This year we basically are over our budget by $40,000 to $50,000, and this is something that is completely out of our control," she said. 

"In respecting some of the safety and security concerns, we reduced our outside vendors by 25 per cent, which impacted our revenue .... when you put everything together, it is becoming so cost prohibitive." 

Security costs rise

Matthew Carrico, an organizer of Car Free Day Vancouver says the local festival which has been running for 11 years, is also feeling the financial pinch.

"For us, the big item that does seem to be increasing much faster than everything else is the security cost," Carrico said. 

"Our waste management has [also] significantly increased, like gone up three or four times in just a few years." 

Both Gaudio and Carrico would like the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Department to help offset rising operating costs. 

Hundreds turned out in 2015 for Car Free Day in the West End. (CBC)
  Carrico said Car Free Day will continue as planned next month but he's unsure how much longer it's financially sustainable. 


Bal Brach


Bal Brach is an award-winning reporter at CBC News Vancouver. She has worked in television, radio and online news across Canada for more than 15 years. Bal's storytelling skills have earned her two Jack Webster Awards. She is also the recipient of regional and national Radio Television Digital News Association awards. Bal can be reached at or on social media @BalBrach