City to have ‘serious’ conversations with Hamilton-area event programmers amid pandemic

A number of major events in the Hamilton, Ont. area are not likely to happen as we know them says the city's Mayor even with the potential loosening of Ontario's emergency orders amid the COVID-19 pandemic. @supercrawl

Hamilton’s mayor and emergency operations centre (EOC) director says they hope to work with many “major” event organizers in the months ahead to alter programming as strict distancing orders from the province are likely to continue through the summer.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger told Global News on Friday it’s “not likely” many traditional events “as we know it” will be a part of the city’s summer in the absence of a vaccine for the coronavirus.

READ MORE: COVID-19 forcing tough decisions from Hamilton and area event programmers

“I cannot foresee that we’re going to be allowing, you know, hundreds of thousands of people to drop through for Supercrawl or an agricultural fair at Rockton,” the mayor said. “It just doesn’t jibe with the circumstances we’re in now.

“So I think the likelihood of them happening is very small.”

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The city’s EOC director Paul Johnson says the plan is to have “serious conversations” with event planners they haven’t already connected with, in order to help them make decisions about how their events may be run under the province’s guidelines for physical distancing.

“So we’re trying to work with the staff people as best we can, and as you can see, a number of groups are already starting to make those decisions.”

A number of Southern Ontario’s headline summer events have either already been cancelled due to social distancing orders, or others are awaiting answers from the province and municipalities to see what the realistic possibilities there are of staging any sort of event.

READ MORE: Too fast, too soon? How we’ll know whether Ontario reopened at the right time

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Supercrawl founder Tim Potocic told Global News that a “plan” on staging the iconic James Street festival, which draws up to 200,000 over three days in September, will come in early June.

Marge Ford, president and chair of the Rockton World’s Fair, says the fate of that Thanksgiving weekend spectacle is up in the air.

“We have half the board members wanting to call it off, and less than half that want to wait,” Ford told Global News.

Other high-traffic Hamilton and area events have simply pulled the plug, like Pride Hamilton, Port Colborne’s Canal Days, Ottawa Street’s Sew Hungry and Burlington’s Ribfest.

“It’s clear now that the impact of this pandemic will last months, not weeks. With that in mind, we’ve made the tough decision to cancel our Pride in the Park event scheduled for June 20 in Gage Park,” organizers of the pride event said in a statement released in late March.

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Earlier this month, the organizer of the Hamilton and Niagara Falls Comic Con said he was hoping both events could run in September and October, respectively.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Ontario mulls regional reopening approach due to increased testing data

“We originally moved our Niagara Falls event date from June to September, with the positive thought process that public gatherings may be allowed by that time,” Dabrowski said.

“Of course, no one has a crystal ball, and we continue to monitor government mandates day by day.”

Sports fields, pools, and recreation centres likely not a part of the summer

Mayor Fred Eisenberger told Global News that sports fields, pools, and recreation centres are also not likely going to a part of the city’s summer.

“A lot of those great sports activities, sports fields, recreation centers, swim lessons, all the things that we expect and like to do over the summertime and out throughout the year this season, it’s very, very unlikely that they’re going to be available to us,” said Eisenberger.

On Friday, Hamilton Conservation authority sent out another reminder that its scenic waterfalls and escarpment areas will be off-limits to residents with bylaw officers on patrol to enforce physical distancing.

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Some of the city’s most popular outdoor hangouts like Devil’s Punchbowl, Crooks Hollow, Spencer Gorge, Dundas Peak, and other trail systems are still closed.


Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

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