Charlottetown's Victorian Christmas Market scrapped over COVID-19 fears
'We’ve been so lucky here and we want to keep that momentum going'
This year's Victorian Christmas Market in downtown Charlottetown is being cancelled due to concerns over a very modern malady.
"It's just not a risk that we were willing to take," Discover Charlottetown executive director Heidi Zinn told CBC News after her organization cited COVID-19 as the reason for cancelling the weekend market.
All the rest of the Charlottetown Christmas Festival activities will continue as planned.
"We know how fortunate we are to have so many of our businesses that are open safely that we can still support. And we feel really fortunate that we can still do that and wrap some really great programming around them."
About 80 vendors had booked space for the Nov. 27-29 market and were to sell their wares from outdoor booths on Queen Street and indoors at the Confederation Court Mall.
The annual event usually draws quite a crowd — and that's the problem.
"More likely than not it would have happened and it would have been great and it would have been safe," said Zinn.
But in a "big wide open space" venue like Queen Street, with so many ways for people to approach the vendors, it would have been impossible for the group's volunteers to control all the entrances and the flow of traffic to comply with public health guidelines.
"We certainly didn't take it lightly," Zinn added. "Yesterday was a pretty emotional day in the office, just trying to balance the concerns of the vendors, of public health, of our board and knowing how excited our community was for this event."
Zinn said some of the vendors will be able to procure pre-Christmas space in huts at the Confederation Court Mall, and there are still some spaces available at the weekend pop-up market at Founders' Food Hall & Market on the waterfront.
We don't want to stop living and breathing and shopping because of the unknown. We do have to keep going.— Heidi Zinn, Discover Charlottetown
She hopes Islanders understand that the cancellation is actually sending a message about just how safe it is to come downtown to shop at the year-round stores in the historic area, which all have public health plans in place to protect their customers.
"We don't want to stop living and breathing and shopping because of the unknown. We do have to keep going," Zinn said. "Our downtown is open, our shops are open … downtown is magical. These merchants have worked so hard with the requirements of the public health office to open safely.
"We've been so lucky here and we want to keep that momentum going."