Last year’s Spirit Square programming attracted large crowds into the downtown core.

Bigger, better year for Spirit Square will cost more

Costs at Spirit Square are on the rise for next year as the city prepares to host several major events expected to draw thousands into the community.

Coun. Colleen Evans said “numerous major events” are coming to Campbell River in 2017 and many will need the use of Spirit Square.

“Although all the final planning hasn’t taken place, many of these (events) will be incorporating Spirit Square into their activities,” Evans said.

The busy year includes the hosting of the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities in April which will bring in at least 275 delegates from the province’s Island and coastal communities.

That will be followed by the BC Elders Gathering, which is expected to draw 3,000 to 3,200 delegates to the city in July, and Tribal Journeys, a massive undertaking estimated to attract between 5,000 and 7,000 visitors to both Campbell River and Quadra Island in August.

Spirit Square will also be the venue for events associated with Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

To accommodate those events, which are in addition to the annual programming at Spirit Square, Jim Creighton, Spirit Square manager, is asking the city for a $12,000 increase to the Spirit Square operating budget for a total budget of $73,311.

Evans said the request is reasonable.

“We heard upwards of 15 (to) 20,000 people could be coming into our community so this budget would provide an opportunity to accommodate that,” Evans said.

In 2016, the Spirit Square budget was $61,600 which included an increase in funding for additional programming.

Evans said the “new programming on Tuesdays and Thursdays” helped realize one of council’s strategic priorities.

“It brought people into the downtown core. It oftentimes was hard to find a space in Spirit Square so I think it’s really helped to revitalize our community,” Evans said. “I think the programming has been a great success.”

Programming last year included Tuesday noon hour concerts from June through August, to the tune of $3,705. There was also the Thursday night River Concert Series in July and August – a $14,655 initiative – as well as the $8,095 Campbell River Mirror Jazz and Blues Weekend held over three nights in July.

Spirit Square also played host to Campbell River Musical Theatre, Aboriginal Day, Canada Day celebrations, ArtsFest, the Volunteer Fair and PumpkinFest.

Mayor Andy Adams said at last week’s Monday council meeting that Creighton has done a “fabulous job” as Spirit Square coordinator, in collaboration with the Heart of the City BIA and city staff, while Evans acknowledged that the operation of Spirit Square has been a successful partnership.

“Going forward, it’s a great investment and it’s an important opportunity to show our commitment to revitalizing the downtown core,” Evans said.

Adams said city council will consider Creighton’s budget request in early December during financial planning meetings.

“Next year’s going to be bigger and better so we look forward to discussing this further at financial plan.”