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Peter Black

Local Journalism Initiative reporter


Uncertainty still surrounds major summer events in Quebec City, with the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic raging through the population.

Nevertheless, city officials unveiled plans last week to provide “an explosion of summer activities.” At an April 6 news conference, Mayor Régis Labeaume announced the program under the banner Québec animée - On se donne un air d’été. The slate of more than 500 activities, from May until October, will cover three main categories: festive and friendly streets, parks and squares; art and cultural installations; and performances.

The events must take place in person and conform to evolving public health regulations.

Labeaume said, “I am passionate about offering citizens a host of opportunities to have fun, to take their minds off things and to break the isolation that has been experienced for over a year. We want a winning formula for everyone: residents, merchants, organizations, promoters, artists and artisans.”

The city has budgeted $9 million for the program, $5 million of which will be targeted at “major events.” In a letter to major event organizers, the mayor said it would have to withdraw funding for certain events “in order to support a multitude of activities across the territory.” An announcement of which major events the city will support will be made later.

The mayor said some of the main criteria for such events are that they be “COVID-proof” and go forward without creating direct competition with existing businesses that have suffered badly during the pandemic, such as bars and restaurants.

Coun. Alicia Despins, the executive committee member for culture and major events, said, “The important thing for us this summer is to increase [our] opportunities to showcase the talent of artists and cultural organizations for the benefit of the vast majority of residents. We know they are innovative and committed to their art, and we will continue to support them by allowing hundreds, if not thousands, of them to work this summer.”

Despins gave the example of some small circus acts that performed in the streets last summer as the type of performances the city would encourage and support.

The mayor said, “it’s been one year that we’ve done things differently, and it’s been a success wall to wall.” He chose an English expression to describe the city’s approach to summer programming: “We care.”

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Screenshot from Ville de Québec YouTube site

Quebec City councillor Alicia Despins, the executive committee member for culture and major events, spoke at the recent press conference.

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