Kelowna may have been hit hard—along with the rest of the Okanagan—by flooding in the spring, but that didn’t stop most of the outdoor events that required permits and were scheduled for that time from going ahead.
The city’s event development manager Chris Babcock told city council Monday, 18 of the 19 events directly affected by the floods were able to proceed through collaboration between the organizers, the city and external stakeholders.
“In a year that saw our community deal with the challenges related to flooding and excessive smoke, events provided a sense of reprieve and gave us reason to celebrate and showcase our city’s resiliency,” said Babcock.
In total, this year has seen more than 150 outdoor permits issued for a variety of walks, races, festivals, parades, weddings, films and more, said Babcock.
In talking to council Monday, he characterized 2017 as being on par with 2015 in terms of the number of events held in the city and slightly below 2016, in part due to both the flooding and the smoke that blanketed the valley for several weeks during the summer, the result of wildfires in other parts of B.C.
In his report to council, Babcock identified two key challenges for the city when it comes to hosting outdoor events—a limited amount of event-specific sites outside of the downtown core and costs related to staging events in city parks and on city roads. They include site limitations and logistical needs such as generators, fencing and extra porta-potties, as well as permit requirements and having enough trained personnel such as flaggers, security and the RCMP officers available.
“Staff recognize these as ongoing challenges associated with events held outdoors,” he said. “While there are no simple solutions we continue to explore ways to improve the service and opportunities through application of the City Services Offset Grant, collaboration with event organizers and Outdoor Event Committee members and inter-departmental discussions for future park enhancements.
One of the areas of growth is film production and the city is preparing guidelines for future productions to be shot in Kelowna.
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