Port Moody’s public events could fully return to the pre-COVID schedule in 2023, but it’s going to have an impact on the budget and taxes.
Many of the events held in 2022 were funded through the one-time provincial COVID Restart Grant. Some major returning events have not been held since 2019.
“I just want to make it really clear to everybody, this is a lot of money, and this is going to have a tax impact because of actions from the previous council,” said Coun. Diana Dilworth at the Jan. 17 meeting.
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Devin Jain, manager of cultural services, presented information on 20 events and grants that would impact city coffers.
Total costs would range upwards of $387,750, before calculating inflationary changes.
Additionally, an events co-ordinator would likely need to be rehired, as the position was terminated during the pandemic as a cost-saving measure, according to Jain.
Staff are looking for direction before the 2023 budget is finalized so they can get to work on events taking place during half of the year.
“The entire position or a portion of that position would need to be brought back, depending on which events you’d like to see come back this year,” Jain said.
One of the biggest ticket items on the list is Car Free Day, which was last held in 2019, and would cost over $110,000.
Dilworth suggested council hold a special finance committee to address the issue.
“I think it’s a little bit overwhelming, realizing that we have 15 major events and an event coordinator that we have to put back in the budget,” she said.
Mayor Meghan Lahti said that she spoke out against removing the events funding during the 2022 budget period.
She said the city will have to “bite the bullet.”
“I think that the community wants to see those events again,” Lahti said. I’m personally prepared at any time. So we’ll discuss when we can get this back onto the agenda.”
Jain was asked to bring back a more comprehensive report on how the funding would impact the tax burden.
Coun. Kyla Knowles said she thought there may be some opportunity to consolidate some events to lessen the budget impact.
She suggested that Pop-up City Hall, the Community Fair, and Golden Spike Days – a combined cost of $51,000 — all celebrate and showcase the city, and could been turned into a single event.
Coun. Callan Morrison said that many local businesses may want to advertise at the larger events, and asked whether staff had factored in potential sponsorships.
Seeking out sponsorships is very time consuming, and no position at the city is assigned specifically for that role, Jain said.
He said while the city does looks for sponsorship opportunities, potential funds are not currently factored into their budgeting.
Instead, the city budgets for the full costs of the events, and any sponsorship would subsidize the city’s expenses.
“We wouldn’t want to see the city in a situation where we’ve committed to putting on an event such as Car Free Day, just to find out that we’re $50,000 short,” Jain said. Sponsorship, particularly significant amounts, can’t be guaranteed.”
Coun. Haven Lurbiecki said she supports Dilworth’s call for a special finance committee meeting, adding she would like to hear from the community regarding which events they value the most.