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Sturgeon County, Morinville, cancel summer fun

Will Edmonton Airshow still fly?
2904 Countyevents DR166
FUN CANCELLED – Fun times on the midway won't be had this summer after town officials cancelled Morinville Festival Days and other events this week due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor Barry Turner said some events may end up moving online. DAN RIEDLHUBER/St. Albert Gazette

Sturgeon County and Morinville cancelled most summer festivities this week due to the coronavirus, but the jury is out on whether or not the Edmonton Airshow will still fly.

The Town of Morinville announced April 27 that it had cancelled all town events and programs until July 1, including the town-wide garage sale, National Indigenous People’s Day, Festival Days and Canada Day. It also banned garage and yard sales until provincial public health orders are relaxed.

The cancellations follow provincial chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s April 23 decision to ban summer events and festivals to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Hinshaw said public health orders banning gatherings of more than 15 people apply to one-time or annual summer events.

Morinville’s summer festivals and events can draw thousands of people to town and would not fit in that 15-person cap, Mayor Barry Turner said. Garage sales, particularly the town-wide one (which often sees a sale on every street) would see people going from house to house, potentially spreading coronavirus.

We’ve all had to make sacrifices to make sure the pandemic doesn’t overwhelm our health care system, Turner said.

“Unfortunately, our community events and festivals are affected in the same way.”

Turner said the town is looking into taking some summer festivals online, such as by doing a webcast of the Canada Day fireworks show, and is helping charities affected by the cancelled festivals (such as the Morinville Food Bank) tap into provincial supports. Residents can also hold online yard sales with curbside pickup.

Sturgeon County council voted April 28 to cancel all county public engagements and events from May 1 to July 31 due to COVID-19, except for those that could follow the province’s directives on physical distancing. County corporate services director Jesse Sopko said events that gathered less than 15 people and kept participants at least two metres apart such as the tree program, rain barrel and composter pick-up, and hazardous waste roundup would proceed.

Council will decide on the status of August and September events by June 30.

Airshow grounded?

The 2019 Edmonton Airshow was cancelled last year due to unsafe field conditions at Villeneuve Airport, and tickets for that show were supposed to be honoured for this year’s event. The airshow typically draws about 40,000 people to the airport over two days, which would seem to violate provincial health orders.

Airshow CEO Richard Skermer said he has yet to made a decision on whether or not to cancel this year’s show, and is working with area officials on next steps.

“We haven’t signed any contracts yet,” he said, and airshow acts can be brought in pretty quickly.

Skermer said the show isn’t until August, and provincial health orders could be lifted by then. Even if they are not, the airport is big enough that guests could theoretically stay the recommended two metres apart. It’s also unclear if many performers would be able to attend the show, given restrictions on international travel.

Skermer said he’d have to make the call on a full-sized show by mid-May and a show of any sort by July 1. The trade show, air race and motorcycle show won’t happen, but some air acts or an online show might be possible.

“If we just flat-out cancel, after last year, that would be two years in a row,” Skermer said.

“That would kill us."

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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