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Barrhaven Canada Day event facing $15,000 financial shortfall


The future of one of Ottawa's largest volunteer-run Canada Day celebrations hangs in the balance as it grapples with cuts to grants from all three levels of government.

The July 1 event in Barrhaven is not alone. In recent years, many other festivals have faced similar funding setbacks.

In less than two months, Clarke Fields Park in Barrhaven will be transformed into a red and white carnival for a fun-filled Canada Day with rides, games, food, and live entertainment, all organized by volunteers led by Darrell Bartraw.

"There's not a day that passes that I and my team are not doing something for Canada Day," he said.

Funding slashed

This year, however, the longstanding Canada Day event is faced with a significant financial blow after a federal grant was slashed by 30 per cent and two others — one from the province and one from the City of Ottawa — were nixed. The event finds itself short $15,000 in a time when costs like insurance, security and services have soared.

The Canadian Heritage Grant program, from which the organizers typically receive $14,000, only granted $10,000 this year. Bartraw says hopes for additional support from the City of Ottawa Civic Funding Grant program were dashed when the committee received zero funding despite requesting $3,000.

Compounding their financial woes, changes to the Province of Ontario's Experience Ontario program presented another setback. In 2023, the committee received a substantial $52,500 grant from the program. A recent rule change, however, capped the maximum allowable grant at $20,000, leaving the organizers empty-handed despite their application for the full amount.

"And then we lost a major stage sponsor," said Bartraw. "We're at, like, $160,000 to run an event of this size. We've had some emergency meetings and we had to decide what stays and what doesn't stay. And we've had to cut back in a number of areas."

Cutting back

Bartraw says the event has had to cut back on a few things.

"We've had to cut back on our entertainment this year and we've had to drastically cut back on who we are bringing in to save us a few thousand dollars," says Bartraw. "The event is still going to be for the people coming here an amazing show for all ages."

Area MPP Lisa McLeod calls the Canada Day event a Barrhaven staple and says she has contacted the premier's office to see how the province can help.

In recent years, other festivals like the Canadian Tulip Festival and Jazzfest have seen funding slashed.

"Unfortunately, I think that's the reality for many of the festivals that we have and the activities that are so important to our community," said Barrhaven West Coun. David Hill.

"I'm going to be out there volunteering as well, flipping pancakes and, and helping to make it a good time as best we can."

Bartraw says with the help of the many dedicated community sponsors, a GoFundMe, and an upcoming comedy show at the Waterford Grand Retirement Residence, the Barrhaven festival might be able to recover.

"This will still be a great show and we're very excited to bring back our midway, our main stage, our kids zone, and our seniors breakfast that we do every year, which is free for all the seniors," says Bartraw. "We just hope we can continue to do what we've been doing for 42 years and just have the best Canada Day celebration we can for the people of Barrhaven." Top Stories

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