Vancouver planning $7.75-million party to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday

Image: City of Vancouver

Vancouver is set to host a massive party in the summer of 2017 to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

City Council is expected to approve plans on Tuesday for the city to host a massive $7.75-million, 11-day festival at downtown Vancouver’s Larwill Park, the 2.7-acre vacant parking lot site that was used as a Live Site during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Fan Zone. The proposed festival site, next to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, is also slated as the future new home of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

According to city documents, the so-called “The Drum Is Calling Festival” in July 2017 will focus heavily on Indigenous themes to acknowledge the city’s location on on the unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, and is a City of Reconciliation.

“There is an opportunity, therefore, to present traditional and contemporary Indigenous programming as part of a stand-alone civic celebration,” reads the city report. “In this way, Vancouver aims to position itself as THE Aboriginal cultural tourism destination in Canada in 2017.”

The City will allocate the following for its celebrations: $2.2 million for the logistics and operations of running the festival; $1.21 million for public art; and $80,000 to organize another Walk for Reconciliation. Staffing, marketing, external partnerships, contractors, and consultants will account for more than $3.5 million.

The event is largely supported by the federal government, which will provide $3.5 million in funding through its Canada 150 fund.

The Canada 150 fund carries a $210 million budget to host birthday celebrations and special events across the country next year – to support existing and the creation of new community events such as concerts and festivals. A bulk of the funding will go towards enhancing Canada Day celebrations in major Canadian cities.

The City of Vancouver will also foot $1.9 million through its Cultural Tourism Reserve Fund. Remaining sources will come from grants by the provincial government, Sport Hosting Funds, and private sponsorship.

Planners expect that the festival will draw a total of 125,000 attendees throughout its entire run.

In contrast, the FIFA Women’s World Cup Fan Zone last summer drew 130,000 people over 13 days on a slim $1.2 million budget. Both 2010 Olympics Live Sites at Larwill Park and David Lam Park attracted a combined 320,000 attendees over 14 days on an $18 million budget, with $10 million provided by the federal government.

Photos of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Fan Zone at Larwill Park.

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

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Kenneth Chan Deputy Editor & Social Media Manager at Vancity Buzz. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, and anything else that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]

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