The Canada Day parade at Maple Bay may be small, but it always draws an enthusiastic crowd. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

The Canada Day parade at Maple Bay may be small, but it always draws an enthusiastic crowd. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Lack of communication forces Canada Day event in Maple Bay to change course

New regulations prevent traditional community parade and party

There will be a community celebration in Maple Bay come Canada Day but it won’t include the usual 20-year-old traditions due to what one North Cowichan councillor says was a lack of communication between the municipality and the event’s organizers.

Gone are the famous parade and party at the Rowing Club and boat launch. Now, the Herd Road dog park will be the place to be from noon until 2 p.m. on July 1. There’ll be a helicopter fly-over around 12:30 p.m., a gelato truck, cake, a contained walking parade, and more.

“Please pass the news around that we are meeting at the Herd Road Park and celebrating Canada Day,” said Maple Bay Community Association member Barb Stone. “This is the one event of the year that brings the Maple Bay neighbours together and we will not cancel this event. Stay tuned for a return to our traditional space, next year.”

According to North Cowichan councillor Christopher Justice, council liaison to the MBCA, new regulations regarding traffic control, safety, and liability were not adequately communicated to the group and not only was it too late, but it was cost prohibitive for the requirements to be met.

“The bottom line is that I’m waiting to get a full explanation from the administration,” Justice said, after confirming both the parade and party at the boat launch have been scrapped for 2022. “I have had a conversation with a couple of senior staff and they’ve basically told me that we’ve got some new regulations and we failed to communicate them fast enough to the association for them to develop the required plan, but it’s more complicated than that of course.”

The MBCA did apply for a grant-in-aid from North Cowichan, which the group received, but they didn’t apply for enough to cover the cost of traffic control under the new regulations which were, at the time, unknown to them.

Also, Justice explained, due to the pandemic the group was later than usual in committing to hosting the event so they didn’t leave enough time to jump through all the regulatory hoops.

Justice believes there was no malicious intent by staff or council at the municipality to specifically restrict the MBCA.

“It’s an unanticipated side effect of what the administration sees as modernization, or bringing the municipality out of the dark ages and it means being more aware of risk and liability,” he said. “But the rest of us sort of see it as overly rule-oriented officiousness or predatory bureaucracy.”

Justice has participated in the event for years and is disappointed it won’t happen as it traditionally has this July 1.

“These regulations disallow this ancient, old tradition that everybody loves,” he said. “I find it extraordinarily disappointing and ridiculous. However we’re going to make sure that in subsequent years the same problems don’t come up.”

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