City of Saint John announced Tuesday that it has canceled the Canada Day celebrations of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deputy Mayor Shirley McAlary, a member of the Canada Day organizing committee, confirmed Canada’s first incorporated city will not be holding festivities leading up to or on July 1 as a precautionary measure to prevent large gatherings.
Gatherings of large groups and other events fall under a provincial ban aimed at combating the spread of the virus.
Previous Canada Day events included a parade down King Street, musical acts and games at the Market Square Boardwalk, cultural markets in Kings Square and an evening of fireworks. The festivities drew thousands of people into the city’s uptown area.
“It’s going to be very, very disappointing for the citizens, and especially the younger people,” McAlary said. “I just don’t see any way we can have it because of the crowd gathering. I don’t know how we’d separate people at an event like that.”
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McAlary said the city had not heard if it would be getting money this year from Heritage Canada to pay for Canada Day celebrations. She said communities across the country apply for funding every year, but Saint John has not received an answer on its application.
The city was expecting about $30,000 from Heritage Canada, McAlary said.
McAlary said she’s not aware of Canada Day celebrations in Saint John being cancelled at any time in its 235-year history.
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“We’re encouraging everybody to celebrate Canada Day,” McAlary began. “Because Canada Day, it just gives you a moment. We probably should do it every day, but at least on Canada Day we can say thank you for what we have as Canadians and what a wonderful country we live in and how privileged we are to be here.”
McAlary said the city will be monitoring provincial restrictions and would try to do “something” for Canada Day if those limitations allowed for it.
In the meantime, a spokesperson for the Town of Quispamsis said that the community was expected to decide the fate of its own Canada Day plans at a meeting of town council on Tuesday.