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Toronto spending more than $1 million per day on Canada Day weekend celebrations

Canadian taxpayers will be on the hook for over $500 million overall

by Vanmala Subramaniam
Jun 30 2017, 12:09pm

Canada’s largest city is dishing out a hefty $5.16 million to celebrate the 150th birthday of Canada. This money will be used over four days — June 30 to July 3 — for celebratory events at downtown Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square, and three other community centres in Toronto’s suburbs.

The $5 million, according to a City of Toronto spokesperson, does not include community events taking place outside Nathan Phillips Square, Scarborough Civic Centre, Humber Bay Park West and Mel Lastman Square. The CN Tower’s scheduled 20 minute fireworks display on July 1 is also not part of this $5 million budget.

Earlier this year, the City of Toronto approved a budget of $8 million for Canada 150 celebrations. That includes $4.2 million from the City of Toronto itself, $1.5 million from the Ontario government, $1.9 million from the federal government and $445,000 in corporate sponsorships.

VICE Money reached out to the ten provinces in Canada, and the City of Toronto to determine how much money each respective government has allocated for Canada 150 celebrations. Only Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the City of Toronto responded to our query.

We asked for two kinds of numbers — the amount each government has budgeted for year-long Canada 150 projects which includes money for new infrastructure ventures and partnerships with nonprofit organizations, and the amount of money allocated for the weekend-long Canada Day celebrations. We were of course, more interested in the latter figure.

Only the City of Toronto provided specific figures on the cost of actual Canada Day celebrations.

The Province of Ontario has budgeted $100 million on what they term “Ontario150 programming”. According Ontario government spokesperson Jeff Costen, the money will “support programs and events that will attract visitors from across the globe, with key events both large and small taking place across the province.”

It is still unclear whether this money will be used for long-term projects, or to celebrate the next four days.

On a per capita basis, Vancouver seems to be spending a whole lot more than Toronto on celebrating Canada 150. According to this publicly available document, Vancouver is budgeting $7.75 million to “activate a celebration site over 11 days”, starting June 21. This includes public art displays featuring local Indigenous artists, a walk for reconciliation that will “provide an opportunity for staff to interact with Aboriginal peoples”, and the overall construction costs of the site that will be used to celebrate Canada Day.

As was previously reported, the federal government’s price tag for this year’s Canada Day celebrations is a whopping $500 million. A huge chunk of this money — $200 million — was distributed through the Department of Canadian Heritage to Indigenous communities, cities, and provinces under the “Canada 150 Fund” banner.

$80 million was allocated for “large-scale, Canada-wide Signature projects”, $100 million for community-based projects like Manitoba’s 2017 Canada Summer Games (they received $1.5 million), and $20 million for the actual celebration of Canada Day on July 1.

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