BC government to spend $30 million to mark province's 150th birthday in 2021

Apr 20 2021, 11:39 pm

The provincial government will spend $30 million to celebrate the 150th anniversary of British Columbia’s entry into Canadian Confederation.

This funding was announced in the 2021 BC budget today, which will go towards supporting one-time initiatives from 2021 to 2022 that acknowledge reconciliation and learning, diversity and inclusion, and “resiliency for the next 150 years.”

“Investments will raise cultural awareness, recognize the diversity that contributes to B.C.’s vibrant social and economic fabric, and support resiliency and recovery across the province to mark this milestone,” reads the budget document.

More details on BC 150+, the name of the program, will be shared this summer, closer to the anniversary date of July 20.

Previously a British colony, BC became a province of Canada in 1871.

Given the pandemic’s trajectory within BC, the funding is unlikely to go towards major public events and celebrations this summer that draw large crowds.

If it were not for the pandemic, a significantly larger BC 150+ funding program would have been likely.

Extensive celebrations and initiatives were held for Canada’s 150th anniversary and Montreal’s 375th anniversary in 2017, and Vancouver’s 125th anniversary in 2011.

This is the province’s second “BC 150,” after the major celebrations and initiatives in 2008 that marked the 150th anniversary of the formation of BC as a colony.

For BC 150 in 2008, millions of dollars were spent to enhance existing events across the province — everything from small community events to large-scale events in Vancouver. The PNE and the Celebration of Light were some of the largest recipients for event funding.

That year, the Celebration of Light’s final night saw an eight-minute extension of its fireworks show to celebrate BC 150.

The provincial government also set aside another $150 million for the BC 150 Cultural Fund to provide long-term, stable funding for arts and culture. The largest investments from this fund were $9 million to restore and revitalize the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, now known as The Cultch, and $50 million towards the construction of the new facility for the Vancouver Art Gallery, which is still short of its fundraising goal.

In 1986, Vancouver’s staging of the Expo ’86 World’s Fair coincided with the city’s centennial.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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