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The last time the City of Vancouver gave itself a proper birthday bash was in 2011 to celebrate its 125th anniversary.
But ever since those celebrations, there has been nothing. And now, a Vancouver city councillor wants that changed for good.
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A motion by Colleen Hardwick to be debated by Vancouver City Council in an upcoming meeting this month proposes commencing an annual tradition of celebrating the city’s incorporation, which occurred on April 6, 1886.
In the past, June 13 has also been celebrated as ‘Vancouver Day’ to mark the anniversary of the Great Fire of 1886 that destroyed much of the first structures in the area of what is now downtown Vancouver. It was first celebrated in 1929, and again in 1986 during Expo ’86 to mark Vancouver’s centennial.
“There have been discussions about celebrating the city’s birthday since 2011, but plans never materialized,” wrote Hardwick.
“We have sporadically been celebrating Vancouver’s birthday, when we have an opportunity to celebrate it annually. The city’s official celebrations and observances are meant to recognize days and significant events in our history, and Vancouver’s birthday should be considered a significant event in our history.”
She says the Museum of Vancouver, which is owned by the municipal government, is “very interested” in being a part of a birthday festivities for the city and is supportive of the April 6 celebration starting this year.
Other potential partners in the Vanier Park area for a free, all-ages festival could include the nearby Vancouver Maritime Museum and the HR MacMillan Space Centre.
As well, a flag bearing the City of Vancouver’s emblem would be raised at Vanier Park annually on this day.
For ‘Vancouver 125,’ the municipal government spent about $6 million throughout 2011 on the special anniversary celebrations and initiatives, including two large-scale celebration festivals held at Jack Poole Plaza in April and Stanley Park’s Brockton Oval in June.
More recently in 2017, with funding assistance from the federal and provincial governments and private sponsors, the City of Montreal spent nearly $1 billion on its 375th anniversary, including $800 million for large projects such as new cultural centres, new special lighting for the Jacques Cartier Bridge, and a new amphitheatre. Another $110 million was also spent on new and enhanced celebrations throughout the year.