Summerland council approves scaled back Light Up event for December

Green light for Light Up

Casey Richardson

While it may be barely past Thanksgiving and on to Halloween, Summerland’s iconic Light Up festival is working to adapt their event in another year of pandemic restrictions before the holiday season hits.

Summerland's Chamber of Commerce was back before council on Tuesday, presenting a scaled down version of the Festival of Lights after council rejected their request for funding at the last meeting.

Councillors were wary of going through with the funding due to concerns over crowd control, COVID-19 control, and constantly-changing public health orders.

The 2021 Light Up Summerland will look to spread out its event over three Saturdays full of holiday cheer, kicking off on Dec. 4 with a drive-by light up event, along with increased safety measures put in place. Downtown will host carollers, Santa, food trucks and activities from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Alongside the Drive By Light Up event, the Sip n’ Shop, Bottle Neck Drive Winter Series and the Art Council's "Seasons Sparkles" events will run on following Saturdays. The events take place Dec 4, 11 and 18.

Summerland Chamber of Commerce President Ron Kubek, along with Director Paul Biro gave a run down of the event and answered questions from council, calling last year’s drive-by event ‘safe and well received.’

“I actually like what I see here. I know last year during COVID people missed Light Up,” Councillor Erin Carlson said. “I think that you’ll see great value by promoting this over a three week period and people will continue to come look at the lights up to Christmas.”

“I certainly am happy with what I see here,” Mayor Toni Boot added.

Coun. Doug Homes voiced a concern about supporting an event that has traditionally supported themselves, pointing to the request for a financial contribution of $10,000 towards the budget.

Kubek explained that since the funding model for the chamber had changed, it now seeks approval by council.

“When council changed our budget back in 2020, and it was a fee for service business, we lost over half of our funding that had been there for decades. So we had to make some staff changes and so right now for any event that's outside of what we're contracted for, which is the you know, the tourism information booth and running that we have to go and ask the council for funds for that,” Kubek explained to Castanet after the meeting.

“So the event is not costing council any more money than what they had spent [previously], we've asked for $10,000 for this year for planning and for video streaming and for a lot of the things that we need to do.”

Summerland CAO Graham Statt pointed out that there's more conversation needed around the insurance coverage under District policy for the event, along with road closures.

With just six week left before the event kicks off, the chamber will be working alongside District staff, public works and emergency services to coordinate the set up.

Council gave the green light for the event this year, but pushed any decisions for the Festival of Lights funding for 2022 until budget talks.

“We're trying not to attract too many people into the community. With COVID, we've got to be cognizant that we don't want to bring too many new people in. But we want to let people know that if they do come to Summerland that our shops are open for business, our businesses are here,” Kubek said.

“And we still want to put that Christmas spirit out there so that we can help the businesses that are behind me and are all around that have just had a really tough year.”

For updates on the event, follow the Visit Summerland Facebook page.

More Penticton News