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Whistler Village Canada Day parade to return in 2024

Non-motorized parade will showcase locals’ pride, creativity
parade canada letter
Whistler will host a Canada Day parade in 2024, though it will look different than in years past.

Whistler will have a Canada Day parade in 2024 after all, after a motion passed at the May 14 council meeting, though it will look different than what locals may remember from the pre-COVID days of yore.

Staff initially presented a slightly revised take on last year’s People’s Parade (and highlighted at an April 23 committee of the whole meeting), dubbed the Canada Day Village Festival Concept, before presenting council with two resolutions: either approve the concept as-is, or direct staff to change gears, and free up resources for a parade.

In a presentation to council, village animation and events manager Bob Andrea noted if directed to produce a parade, staff would recommend a non-motorized version (to align with Whistler’s Big Moves climate action strategy), and that doing so would mean redirecting some financial and human resources, along with a “slight reduction in scope and scale” of programming through the rest of the day.

“Just to be clear, we’re not talking about eliminating the afternoon programming, we’re talking about reducing the infrastructure-heavy performances, meaning built stages, and tents, and apparatus, because you can’t have parades and people in the same place as the infrastructure,” he said.

As for the non-motorized aspect, “we would hope that people get really creative,” Andrea added, noting floats themselves aren’t eliminated from the parade.

“You could use human power, e-bikes, golf carts—there’s different ways to propel a float, and that’s what we’re looking for, is that creativity,” he said. “We don’t want to restrict—if we’re going to go with a parade route, we want it to be awesome, and we want people to have a lot of fun.”

Following the presentation, Councillor Ralph Forsyth proposed a new resolution, directing staff to allocate the resources and space required to enable Canada Day programming that includes a parade featuring a pedal parade for kids, invitations for local athletes, the RCMP, the fire department, “and any other group with the capacity and interest to participate.”

The resolution was supported unanimously.

In speaking to it, Forsyth talked about the “great alchemy” of Whistler that is guests and locals, intermingling, doing things we all enjoy.

Sharing the community side of Whistler with guests has “created the greatest experiences of my life,” Forsyth said, and hosting a Canada Day parade is a way to not only show that off, but to say thanks to the people who make it what it is.

“I'm not asking for the Chamber of Commerce to make giant floats and things,” he said. “It's us, representing us, to the guests and to ourselves, and celebrating ourselves on a great day to celebrate … it doesn't need to be a big production.”

Coun. Jeff Murl thanked Forsyth for the proposal.

“I don't think floats are required. It's about the people, and I think that allows a smaller footprint and adaptability,” he said.

“I really feel like through this discussion we've found hopefully something that works for everybody and will be awesome, as they always are.”

Whistler’s traditional Canada Day parade hasn’t been held since 2019, after which it was sidelined by COVID. It was kept on the shelf following the discovery of human remains at the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in 2021. In discussing bringing the parade back last month, council was advised to seek discussions with the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations on the matter.

Mayor Jack Crompton said he spoke with Squamish Nation Councillor Wilson Williams, who said the Nation “would be interested in doing what they could to help us hold on to the learnings from Tk'emlúps and ensure that we don't lose that new understanding of Canada today.

“So I hope we can also continue to do that work with [the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre],” Crompton said.