Surrey city councillors told city staff at a recent meeting they’d prefer that this year’s Civic Distinction Awards be staged “virtually” rather than be postponed until next year.
Laurie Cavan, Surrey’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, recommended in a corporate report to council that the city’s Civic Distinction Awards be postponed to the fall of 2021 on account of the pandemic, so as to “provide opportunity to host an event that is significant, safe and provides opportunity to appropriately acknowledge the many contributions by Surrey’s businesses and community leaders.”
The Civic Distinction Awards, previously known as the City Awards, features seven categories including Mayor’s Choice, Design, Beautification, Environmental, Heritage and Art, Heart, and Sport Tourism. This year’s ceremony was to take place on Oct. 22 in council chambers at city hall.
“Staff’s ability to plan and host this event has been greatly impacted and hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cavan told council. “At this time, it is very unlikely that the event could be held in-person in October based on the phased approach to recovery as outlined by the provincial health officer and the size of the anticipated guest list estimated at over 200 attendees.”
But councillors don’t want to wait.
“It’s been a challenging year for sure,” Councillor Brenda Locke noted. “I think people need the positive actions by city and so I’m very supportive of carrying on and giving out whatever awards the city deems appropriate.
““I think we have amazing residents doing amazing things, especially during COVID, and while we may not be able to do the kind of showcase we have in the past I think we can come up with new ways of celebrating just like we did with Canada Day,” she said.
Councillor Linda Annis noted that Surrey is always looking for “dedicated” people to “help us in many ways throughout the city, in particular during this pandemic time.
“I think that we need to be looking at expanding the number of awards that we’re giving out,” she said. “It’s the one way that the city can say thank you and show appreciation for the individuals who make our city a better place to live. I do not support postponing these awards until 2021. Recognizing our citizens and their contributions in our city is critically important. While it is less than ideal, I would favour doing a virtual celebration for our amazing volunteers.”
Councillor Laurie Guerra asked council to send the matter back to city staff to “see if they can come up with a way that we can honour, and maybe do a fast-tracking of some of these types of awards.
“Whether it be a web, you know, virtual, or however they can do it.”
Surrey City Manager Vincent Lalonde said if council wants staff to set up an awards event in the fall or early winter, “we could definitely do a more virtual type and we wouldn’t need anything more that just your recommendation here to do so, or we can do as recommended in the report and just do something next year. It’s up to council.”
“We can do either with ease,” he said.
Surrey council’s next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 15.