Papier-mâché, not plastic, part of Victoria’s greening of Canada Day

Bike valet parking among city’s other new initiatives

Victoria Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe stands next to the totem in front of the legislature. Participants will be able to check their bikes near the legislative buildings during Canada Day celebrations this weekend.

Cyclists often feel like second-class citizens on the roads – but at the upcoming Canada Day celebrations, they’ll be treated like the valet-parking elite.

New this year, the city will provide valet service to cyclists by the legislature. It will allow people to leave their bikes with an attendant who will wheel it away to a secured area, said Amanda Wilcox with Fan Tan Group, a company contracted by the City to host the Canada Day celebrations.

No bike lock is necessary – just show photo ID and receive a ticket to claim your bike later in the evening.

“I think a lot of people would love to bring their bike, but they don’t want to worry about it if they’re going to be downtown for a while,” said organizing committee member Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe.

Bike valet is just one of several new initiatives to make the two-day, city hosted Canada Day festivities more environmentally friendly.

Fireworks company Pro Fx is replacing the plastic casings on its fireworks with ones made of papier-mâché.

All food vendors at the international food court at Ship Point will be required to use compostable containers. The City is also supplying not just garbage cans, but recycling and compost bins as well.

“The Canada Green Team will be around with a bunch of recycling bins, ensuring that all recyclables are returned to their proper containers,” Wilcox said.

The Bottle Depot will collect the beverage containers and donate the proceeds to the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock.

These green initiatives have added a little more cost, but they also likely attracted new sponsors, Thornton-Joe said. This year the event has more financial support than in previous years.

Thornton-Joe has been involved in the celebrations since 2000, when she was president of the Greater Victoria Inter-Cultural Association. In that year, ICA took over the celebrations from the Chamber of Commerce.

When Thornton-Joe joined city council, the file stayed with her and she’s continued to ensure the city’s diversity is reflected in the event through its performances and food.

“For me, I got involved because I took it for granted, being born and raised here, about being Canadian,” she said. That changed through her work with the ICA where, she said, “you meet people who have left their homes to come to Canada for a better life.”

Canada Day by the numbers

This year’s Canada Day celebrations have a $200,000 budget, up from $175,000 last year.

That’s thanks to a grant to bring in Montreal-based bilingual hip hop group, Radio Radio, which headlines the mainstage July 1. The Province of Quebec and Francophone Affairs B.C. supplied $20,000 to bring the act to Victoria.

“It’s an expensive party to throw, but it’s something the local businesses have picked up on in a big way,” said Jeff Day, cultural services co-ordinator for the City.

Sponsorships and grants make up $175,000 of the budget. The City contributed $25,000, plus in-kind services such as street cleaning.

Living Flag duties taken over for 2012

This year, the City has rescued the annual living flag event from former organizers, the Downtown Victoria Business Association.

To participate, wear red or white shirts and head to the legislature grounds by 2 p.m. on July 1 to be photographed with about 2,000 others in formation of the Canadian flag.

At noon, the city will hand out 1,000 shirts to participants without red or white clothing.

rholmen@vicnews.com