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April 6, 2014 at 10:06 AM

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Big Ideas for the City: Celebrating Vancouver Day (April 6)

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You might not know it for the relative lack of fanfare, but Sunday, April 6, marks the city’s 128th birthday. It was on this day, back in 1886, that Vancouver was incorporated as a municipality.

We’d like to make a proposal: starting in 2015, let’s to do something to formally mark the occasion. We’re a city that has been working hard to shake a ‘no fun’ moniker – and this is a time of year, blossoms blooming, spring in the air, which could benefit from some official merry-making. Let’s call it Vancouver Day.

And why not? This is a great city. We deserve to take a day to say as much. Vancouver Day could be time for a bit of good old civic pride, not to mention a decent party.

It’s not like we don’t have precedents, it’s just that they typically only happen every quarter century. The 50th, in 1936 was celebrated in style, and a quarter-century later, the city’s 75th birthday was marked with pomp and circumstance. Many folks will still remember the centennial celebrations of 1986, which included a parade, community events, even a small flotilla of boats. Then-Governor General Jeanne Sauvé paid a visit and cut cake with Mayor Michael Harcourt; there were speeches and 100-gun salutes, and a big party in Stanley Park. They even had a special recognition ceremony for all the babies born on the day.

More recently, we had chance to see what this could look like in 2011, when not one, but two major “Vancouver 125” activities took place: a free outdoor concert at Jack Poole Plaza on April 6, and a larger, weekend long celebration event called SummerLive that took place in July at Brockton Point, Stanley Park.

We don’t need to go to quite the same extent every year, but something would be nice. How about an official “Vancouver Day” proclamation from the Mayor? Maybe some support for neighbourhood events, or local activities that showcase the many and diverse communities that make up Vancouver? A big pot luck? More cake? Perhaps an ‘official’ event in one or more of the city’s downtown public spaces?

There are lots of different and creative ways to celebrate our city, and it wouldn’t take much to make it happen. Civic leaders could do a lot by just declaring the day a celebration and inviting ideas. Toss in a bit of seed-funding or small community grants and who knows what might happen!

This year, for the first time in a number of years, the City will be rolling out a big New Years’ Eve celebration – one that will actually go to midnight. That’s a positive move. Collective celebrations are an important part of the public life of any city. And let’s not forget, we’ve also got Cherry Blossoms and Vaisakhi, Car Free Days, Pride and Santa Claus, among others.

But it’s time to round out this roster of activities with an event that focuses on our home town. Let’s make it happen! Mark your calendars! Vancouver Day, a day that celebrates the city.

The Big Ideas are 12 Priority Areas we see as an early release of the VPSN Manifesto on public space policy. We’ve made online access to the Routemap 2012-2014 and the original Manifesto 2008-2011.To learn more about this initiative and to get involved, please write us an email.

Every three years, to coincide with the municipal election, the VPSN publishes a series of public space policy ideas. In 2014, we’ll be showcasing several of these via our blog. Be sure let us know what you think!

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