With funding denied from local government and a dwindling number of volunteers, Williams Lake Daybreak Rotary will no longer organize the Stampede Parade, an event that attracts thousands of spectators to the lakecity each year.
Rotary member Lorne Doerkson said the club has co-ordinated the parade for 15 years, and has agreed not to do it anymore.
“If someone were to take it over we’d be willing to help,” he told the Tribune Wednesday, Feb. 24. “It is a well-done parade, but our club is unable to get the funds and volunteers to keep it going.”
Doerkson said a request to the Central Cariboo Joint Committee – made up of Cariboo Regional District directors and city councillors – for an increase in funding from $5,000 to $10,000 annually over a three-year term was denied last year.
Due to COVID-19 the parade did happen in 2020. But during a Central Cariboo Joint Committee meeting on Sept. 16, 2020, the club’s request for funding was referred to the Central Cariboo Rural Directors Caucus for consideration.
In a letter addressed to mayor and council dated Feb. 12, 2021, rural caucus chair Maureen LeBourdais noted during the 2021 main intake grants for assistance no funding for the parade was approved.
City council received the letter during its Tuesday, Feb. 23 regular meeting and voiced disappointment over the decision.
Mayor Walt Cobb asked if the funding was just being denied for 2021 or further and said he knows how much work it is for the club.
Coun. Sheila Boehm said she hoped residents in outlying areas represented by the rural caucus will give feedback to say they are disappointed in the decision not to fund it.
LeBourdais told the Tribune Wednesday evening, because of COVID-19 it was unlikely there would be a Stampede parade in 2021, so the decision was made not to fund it.
“Given the whole economic situation, to commit to $10,000 a year for the next three years, we just weren’t comfortable doing at this point in time,” LeBourdais said, adding she understands why the club would want a three-year agreement because it would give some continuity. They can apply again for the next intake in the fall, she confirmed.
Doerkson said the cost of the parade runs between $10,000 and $13,000 because of event insurance — which is very expensive — porta potties, advertising and community policing.
“The costs are too much for our club to bear,” he said, noting any profit has always gone back into the community but they cannot organize it and lose money.
Doerkson noted the club was unaware the funding request had even gone before the rural caucus until he was contacted by media and said if there was an opportunity that the funding request would be reconsidered the club may wish to reconsider as well.