It starts a little earlier every year, but by Canada Day our city is into festivals and special events full swing! It’s become part of our rising brand – a city of special events and entertainment. From our parks and waterfront, to our downtown streets and event venues, there are not many idle nights or weekends until we head back to school in the fall.

What started as a way to raise a little money for our hospital and show support for breast cancer victims and survivors has turned into one of the city’s biggest events – the Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival on the weekend after Canada Day. Slightly more than two dozen boats showed up the first year, and now we often see up to 80 teams competing over the weekend. Almost every hotel room in the city is booked for visitors to this event that welcomes international guests as well as locals. Restaurants, bars, and shops fill up and tens of thousands of dollars are raised annually in this celebration with every penny going to the fight against breast cancer at NRGH. The financial impact of this one event on our community is massive.

Just one weekend later and Nanaimo returns to the waterfront at Maffeo-Sutton Park for the annual Silly Boat Regatta. Over $110,000 was raised for Nanaimo’s Child Development Centre last year, a goal sure to be surpassed with participation increasing annually. Businesses and organizations

© 2019 HA Photography, 2019 Nanaimo Silly Boat Regatta.

compete to raise funds and then collaborate to build all forms of wacky craft and race out to a marker buoy and back without sinking. Fortunately, for the fun of the audience, not that many make it. There are all sorts of fundraising events attached to the day and it seems like most of Nanaimo’s population is in the park.

The following week it’s the annual celebration of the spirit of Nanaimo at the Marine Festival and World Championship Bathtub Race which draws throngs of visitors from outside of Nanaimo to figure out what makes us want to race bathtubs on our waterfront – a spectacle created by none other than our famous Mayor “Black Frank” Ney. They might not figure it out but they’ll have a ton of fun trying and leave a lot of money at Nanaimo businesses in the meantime.

Space here prevents me from mentioning much about things like Thursday evening’s Commercial Street Night Market, Concerts in the Park, Infringing Dance Festival, Wheel-o-Rama Festival, VIEX, Fringe Festival, Summertime Blues Festival, the Red Bull Pump Track World Championship Qualifier…

The point is – Nanaimo is turning into a city of festivals and it’s making cash registers ring while we put smiles on people’s faces and emerge as an Island leader in how to celebrate summer.

There was a brief incident at the June 27 Commercial Street Night Market that has been described in at least a couple of different ways in mainstream and social media. There is some truth to each of the stories. The most important points we’d like to make are:

Between the beginning of the incident and the point where we had the situation fully under control, no more than two minutes time passed. Our team was notified just after the first encounter between a Night Market customer and an individual clearly in mental health distress. We caught up with him only meters away where he was engaged in a physical struggle with a bystander. We attempted to intervene and calm the situation when a table knife was thrown to the ground and the individual who dropped it ran. He was pursued by the bystander and the physical altercation escalated. As soon as there was safe space to intervene, our security staff pinned the original perpetrator to the ground and police arrived to bring it to a final resolution.

The Nanaimo Chamber, organizers of the Market, have a robust security plan in place that includes our own staff, local uniformed private security, bylaw enforcement and the RCMP Bike Squad. It is imperative that attendees of the Market not get involved in any security issues but notify any of the above when there is a concern. We wish to maintain the highest level of site security and guest safety. Our staff are all wearing high visibility vests and carry radios in order to respond rapidly to any reports of trouble and put our procedures in place to ensure your safety.

The incident had a minimal impact on the Market, its vendors and guests, was confined to a small space and very brief time frame. Our apologies to any guests who may have been exposed to our first security incident in two years and felt negatively impacted by the experience.