With many events in Saskatoon, such as the Jazz Festival, being postponed or outright cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of the virus on the bridge city goes deeper than some might think.
The Juno Awards were expected to take place in March, but they were called off. And then, there are the sporting events.
The Saskatchewan Marathon was expecting to host the 42nd edition of the race, but had to make the difficult decision to cancel.
“Losing all the momentum … and not being able to then show off what we are able to do as a city, that is hard on the volunteers,” said Tourism Saskatoon president and CEO Todd Brandt.
More than the volunteers, the cancellation also impacts businesses that counted on participants coming to the city for the three-day event.
“People look forward to this event in the spring and now it’s not there so that’s kind of hard (to process),” said Saskatchewan Marathon race director Kim Ali.
Not having people come to Saskatoon is especially hard for seasonal businesses like the Prairie Lily. It’s operations have been delayed by the government until July at the earliest.
“(It) also has a bit of a synergistic relationship with other events and attractions in Saskatoon,” said captain and owner of the Prairie Lily Riverboat Mike Steckhan.
“So, quite often our customers will come in from out of town.”
As of Saturday (April 18), 75 of the 313 COVID-19 cases remain active in Saskatchewan. It’s the decline in cases that has planners optimistic that future events can still go ahead as planned.
“We think there is an opportunity to save some of the summer. Events that are holding out, we are hoping they can still happen,” Brandt said.
“We’ll take the direction from the health authorities of course.”
Brandt says other big events are stuck in a holding pattern for now.