It is with considerable regret that the Town of Sidney’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) advised Sidney event organizers today to cancel or postpone events, both indoor and outdoor, that involve public gatherings scheduled for the summer of 2020. Consequently, the Town of Sidney has made the difficult decision to cancel the 21st season of the Sidney Street Market. Sidney’s Thursday night Street Market consistently hosts 3,000 to 5,000 people each Thursday night during the summer. While the Town of Sidney shares in the disappointment of the market’s cancellation, the Town is looking forward to next year’s market season.
The Town of Sidney Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has been monitoring messaging from senior levels of government and public health authorities regarding events and large gatherings. Recent statements from the Provincial Health Officer indicate that public health guidance regarding events will not be significantly modified for the summer season. The EOC is confident that any easing of restrictions on public gatherings will be a gradual and phased approach that will still limit large gatherings for months to come.
When public health orders and physical distancing limitations are relaxed to the extent that cancelled or postponed events can be safely rescheduled, the Town will work diligently with community organizers to facilitate these events. Recovery from an emergency event is not only an economic activity, it must also take into account social and cultural considerations. The EOC’s Recovery Planning section understands that Sidney’s events are integral to our community culture and identity and will ensure that local events are a key area of focus.
The Provincial Health Officer has encouraged event organizers to come up with creative ideas for modified events. The Town of Sidney EOC has invited event organizers to reach out to the EOC if they have ideas for a significantly modified event that respects limits on public gatherings and ensures that social and physical distancing guidelines can be met.
Although the annual Sidney Days/Canada Day celebrations will not be able to proceed in the traditional manner, the Town is working with Peninsula Celebrations to look at options for a significantly modified event that will give the community an opportunity to celebrate together in spirit while still staying apart. Online activities and activities that allow for physical and social distancing will be considered by the Town’s EOC.
Town of Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith states: “I would like to thank Sidney event organizers and arts and culture organizations for their quick response to the threat of COVID-19. Local arts and culture organizations have temporarily closed their facilities and organizers have cancelled a wide variety of events in order to protect our community’s health. Sidney rightfully prides itself on its numerous events that bring great vitality and happiness to our community. While we all share in the disappointment of event cancellations, I believe we can also take pride in the way we have come together, by staying apart, to protect our community.”
Town of Sidney Fire Chief & Emergency Operations Centre Director Brett Mikkelsen states: “Although it may be a while until we can organize and celebrate events in ways that we have in the past, I hope that we can work collectively on new and safe ways to come together as a community while still respecting physical and social distancing guidelines."
The Emergency Operations Centre will continue to monitor Provincial Health Orders and public health guidance regarding events and large gatherings. For regular updates regarding the Town of Sidney’s response to COVID-19, visit: www.sidney.ca/covid-19.