Vaudreuil-Dorion is re-evaluating the cost of running its annual circus festival.
On Monday, council approved the final share of the city’s $425,000 overall tab for its street festival, outdoor concerts, cultural parade, fireworks and circus which were held over a four-day period around Quebec’s Fête nationale.
Resident Pierre Séguin, a lawyer whose firm was previously contracted by the city and whose brother, François Séguin, is the current district 2 councillor, raised concerns during question period over the total cost of the festival. He pointed out city staff spent hours working on these events, a cost which should also be factored.
Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon said Monday that 2016 marked the first time the city opted to completely self-manage its annual circus festival. He noted the city brought in Quebec musical stars like Sylvain Cossette and Marc Dupré in order to liven up the decade-old circus festival.
“It’s the first time the town has all the numbers. Other years we gave a bit more money for this or that. At the end of the day, we didn’t know what was the real cost because part of it was done by the promoters,” Pilon said. “Now we know what we did (this year) cost around $425,000 in total.”
The tab is split almost equally between the street festival portion and the circus show under the big top, the mayor said. While the circus shows, which required tickets, drew about 1,500 spectators, the street festival events drew an estimated 45,000 visitors over the long weekend, Pilon noted.
“We didn’t have the number of people we thought would go to the circus,” the mayor said. “The question we are asking now is: what can we do to reduce the price of that (circus) show.”
The city hopes to shave about $100,000 from the cost of the festival events by hosting the circus shows at an existing facility, such as the local arena or theatre, instead of installing the seasonal big top structure.
“We want to transfer the circus part into municipal equipment, like the arena or theatre,” he said, adding the cost ratio of setting up the big top is too high based on the actual number of spectators and shows. “We don’t think the circus part is worth the investment, but it’s the first year we dealt with (the festival) completely from the beginning to the end.”
The cost of the festival represents a marginal portion of the municipality’s annual operating budget of about $68.7 million, Pilon said, adding it’s a cultural investment which is generally well appreciated by the city’s 37,500 residents.
“Except for the circus, everything was free (not including food from vendors). People who went (to the festival) were very happy,” he remarked.
There is room for improvement on costs, Pilon acknowledged, adding the city will review its options heading into next year, including possibly seeking more corporate sponsorship.