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Richmond Hill cancels Canada Day, Rib Fest due to COVID-19, explores virtual options

'Recreation will look very different in the future,' acting commissioner of community services says.
May 14, 2020
Sheila Wang

2020 is going to be a lost year for summer festivals.

Richmond Hill has cancelled all city and council-member-led summer festivals and events until Aug, 30 in an effort to continue to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Council made the decision at the May 13 electronic meeting based on recommendations made by the city’s parks and recreation department.

The cancelled activities included Canada Day, Rib Fest on July 24 to 26, Concerts in the Park in July and August and Moonlight Movies in August.

These summer events collectively draw close to 50,000 people every year, according to the presentation made by Darlene Joslin, acting commissioner of community services, at the meeting.

She said staff has been working to facilitate a four-hour virtual celebration on Canada Day to provide an opportunity for local businesses and families to take part.

Council will decide during the summer months if the Santa Claus parade is going to take place this year.

"We recognize that recreation will look very different in the future," Joslin said. "We recognize we have a lot of work ahead before we can reopen at any point."

The city is also going to extend the closures of the recreation and culture facilities and park amenities beyond the May 31 deadline it initially set until the province determines it is safe to reopen.

As Richmond Hill works to reopen at "a snail’s pace", the acting commissioner noted public swimming pools may be one of the last facilities to resume in the future.

Public swimming pools are governed by Ontario public health regulations and cannot open without authority of the Minister of Health and Long Term Care and recommendations of the Life Saving Society.