Sean and the Strangers perform Aug 13.

Positive signs for pier concert series

Final evening in White Rock's summer-long event hits stage Saturday

With one evening remaining in this year’s TD Concerts at the Pier series it may still be a little early for a final evaluation of how the project – the city and the BIA’s bid to promote White Rock as a destination for live music fans – has fared.

But positive reaction so far has given BIA executive director Douglas Smith every reason to be confident the series of free Saturday night summer concerts on White Rock’s waterfront will be back next year.

“Overall we’re delighted with the response from the community and visitors,” said Smith, whose previous experience in event planning and promotion included  developing New Westminster’s Concerts at the Quay series.

“And while we haven’t done a complete door-to-door survey among businesses, my understanding is that the reaction has been very positive,” he said. “We have a lot of dining options available to everybody down on the waterfront, and, from what I’m hearing back from restaurateurs, they’re very pleased.”

Smith said the way ahead is clearly to build on what has proven successful so far.

“The way this event is structured is very sustainable, with the city’s support and the BIA’s support and our sponsors, the TD Bank Group and RE/MAX – and now the Nature’s Fare markets have come on board,” he said.

“I think that with such a strong commitment from all the participants, there’s no reason why we can’t continue to grow,” he added.

Of course the calibre of the musical entertainment has been a crucial element in building the series, Smith said, as has the city’s purchase of a Stageline SL50 portable stage unit.

“We’re very grateful for that – it’s made set up and take down that much easier and that much quicker.”

The music speaks for itself, Smith said – but he’s received very complimentary feedback on the quality of headliners and supporting acts including Daniel Wesley, The Katherines, Twin River, The Moulettes, Washboard Union, Jordan Klassen and Dustin Bentall.

“People are amazed by the quality – not only the touring acts but also the local performers,” he said.

“The local artists have been outstanding – we have a number of amazing White Rock artists that we have made a point of hiring, and we’re pleased, not only that we did it, but with how well they did.”

Following on the heels of Switch To Black, Beyond The Eyes, Desiree Dawson and Ava Carich, fellow local singer-songwriter Richard Tichelman will take the stage at next Saturday’s (Aug. 20) final concert, leading into sets by Peak Performance final winner JP Maurice and east-meets-west multi-instrumentalist Harry Manx.

The beachside setting is an indisputable advantage, Smith said, with one drawback –  even more people would be visiting the waterfront, but many are discouraged by the limited amount of parking available.

“I think the city and the BIA have to take a serious look at reinstating the shuttle – we have to find a way of getting more people down there,” he said.

“The new parking lot planned for Vidal Street and Victoria Avenue is not going to built until the summer of 2018.”

Even so, prospects are good for a third year for the series, he said. “In my experience, the third year is when you get the payoff in terms of the overall marketing and the brand-awareness clicking in with people. There’s tremendous potential for continued growth – if we can deal with the accessibility situation.”

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