British Columbia

Biggest Canada Day party in B.C. moved online to avoid cancellation

It’s tough to capture a live experience on video — especially when that live experience is a Canada Day celebration that’s attended annually by tens of thousands of people — but the city of Surrey is going to give it a shot.

The Surrey event, which drew 70,000 people last year, will be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube

More than 70,000 people attended Surrey's 2019 Canada Day celebration, according to a city staff report. (City of Surrey/Facebook)

It's tough to capture a live experience on video — especially when that live experience is a Canada Day celebration that's attended annually by tens of thousands of people — but the city of Surrey is going to give it a shot.

Physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic forced the city to postpone its popular Fusion Fest but staff are working on salvaging the biggest Canada Day party in the province.

More than 70,000 people attended last year's event in the Cloverdale area, which featured a live performance by the Canadian rock band Our Lady Peace, rides, family activities and food trucks.

In a staff report that went to council this week, Laurie Cavan says she expects this year's event will reach 40,000 viewers in Surrey and an additional 10,000 people in other parts of the country when it is livestreamed on the city's YouTube and Facebook pages.

"The goal of a livestreamed event for Surrey Canada Day is to provide an experience of music, art and culture that can improve mental and emotional health while creating a sense of unity, community and happiness among viewers, residents and citizens," Cavan wrote in the report.

The city will use a $60,000 federal grant and corporate sponsorships to pay for the event, which will also include a $5,000 donation to the local food bank.

If there is any leftover money, it will be put toward budget overruns the city experiences during the pandemic.

"The tone of the programming will be compassionate and uplifting, in celebration of health-care workers, essential workers and Canadians doing their part in the fight against COVID-19," Cavan said.

"The livestream will feature diverse programming to ensure it is inclusive of all viewers, including the following themed segments: kids, seniors/elders, Indigenous, youth, country/rodeo, dance, and music."


If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.  

About the Author

Jesse Johnston worked in private radio from 2004 to 2014 in Vancouver, Red Deer and Calgary. He spent the next five years based out of Surrey (his hometown) as CBC's South of the Fraser reporter until he joined the Impact Team in 2019. Jesse is a two-time recipient of the RTDNA Dave Rogers Award for Best Short Radio Feature. He loves radio, running and dogs. He also loves the Detroit Lions, but if you follow him on Twitter, you already knew that. @Jesse_Johnston

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