You would expect a roller coaster ride during Silver City Days, but not leading up to it.
Last week Trail city council restored the annual festival’s allotment of municipal money, approving a $35,000 operating budget including money for the fireworks and the parade, as well as an extra $1,000 for “cost overruns.”
For weeks leading up to the meeting council had decreed funding for the popular annual event, now entering its 49th year beginning Tuesday, would be cut by one third to $22,500.
The reduction forced the Trail Festival Society (TFS), which organizes the fair, to trim the fireworks display and the parade off the event’s list in order to work within the reduced budget.
But during committee reports last Monday night during the regular council meeting, councillor Sean Mackinlay — the city’s liaison on the TFS board — said the society’s full funding had been restored.
“As of this evening, I am happy to announce the city is more than willing to go ahead and fund the parade for the costs that are required for it,” he told council. “This is believed to be the best use of funds within the city for having such a large civic event.”
It was Mackinlay that ignited a spark of uncertainty over the fate of the Silver City Days last month when he relayed a council directive to TFS to withhold one third of the society’s funding until they could see documentation over how the money was spent for the fireworks display.
Mackinlay provided council with the first recommendation last month to fund only $22,500, with documentation to follow, and council approved. Once council received the documentation from the fire department, another motion was approved for the total cost of the festival.
Councillor Robert Cacchioni said the move was necessary to keep tabs on how the money was spent. The city hands out over $210,000 in grants to city groups and events each year, but requires every organization to account for the money they receive.
“(We) were trying to get an actual handle on expenditures in comparison to what was reported,” Cacchioni said. “Basically council is one hundred per cent behind this, there is no doubt about it. It was just a question of how it was funded, and in what kind of stages it was funded, that’s all.”
Heading in to a society meeting April 18, TFS president Ian McLeod said Silver City Days was close to being cancelled as a result of council withholding funds, with a lot of the Silver City directors ready to throw in their papers and quit.
At the time, Mackinlay had personally stepped up and agreed to provide the money to cover the specific parade costs when the cuts were announced by TFS.
On April 24 in a special meeting in council chambers, the elected officials agreed to pay up to $10,000 for the fireworks display, keeping the nearly 50-year-old tradition alive, after reviewing documentation pertaining to the expenditures.
On Monday night Mackinlay told council that at the April 18 TFS meeting there were some “concerns” with the budget.
“However, we’ve mitigated those with some information that has been made available from the Silver City Days committee, specifically and also with the fire department in regards to the fireworks and the parade,” he said.
McLeod was not overly impressed with the series of setbacks that have disheartened his core group of volunteers — some serving since the festival was first created in 1963.
“All I know is we are already starting for the 50th (anniversary), and we’re going to push through and see what reception we get from council,” he said. “If we keep having that many problems for that one, maybe … it won’t go next year.”
He refuted the suggestion council did not have the information necessary to make their decision early on and avoid the rollercoaster. The information requested was in council before the budget was prepared in January, said MacLeod.
The TFS made a further request to council on Monday night for the use of city-owned facilities and for road closures for the event.
City council approved the society for the use of the Memorial Centre gymnasium on Thursday for a seniors’ dance, the Cominco Arena on Saturday for Kiddies Capers and a Trail Smoke Eaters’ dance and beer gardens, the curling rink for the annual bocce tournament, and Gyro Park on Sunday for Family Days.
The equipment required from the city for the events will be staging, bleachers, sound systems, power supplies, tables and chairs.
Although the society requested a waiver of all fees associated with the use of the facilities and equipment, costs associated with the events — estimated at $12,850 — will be charged to the budget allocation the city gives TFS.
The society asked for the use of the Esplanade from Eldorado to Bay, the 1000 block of Spokane Street from the Esplanade to Bay, as well as the 900 block of Spokane Street from Bay to Cedar.
The request was granted, with two parking stalls being left in use fronting Ye Olde Flower Shoppe on Spokane Street to deal with Mother’s Day floral requests.