White Rock’s Canadian Open Sandcastle Competition, as it appeared in 1984. The White Rock Events Society is proposing a return of the event in 2019, its 40th anniversary year. File photo

White Rock council support sought for new sandcastle contest

White Rock Events Society seeks city funding toward competition planned for 2019

White Rock’s Canadian Open Sandcastle Competition could be making a comeback as soon as August next year – if the volunteer White Rock Events Society can persuade city council to approve their plan and kick in $30,000 in cash support and more in in-kind services.

Society director Christine Tobias is to appear before council at its regular meeting tonight (Monday) to request council’s blessing for the one-day event, planned for Aug 17, 2019, marking the 40th anniversary of the original contest.

The overall draft budget for the event estimates expenses of $157,500, to which council is being asked to contribute direct funding of $25,000 and an arts grant of $5,000.

The society resurrected the White Rock Sea Festival in 2013 and ran it for four years (the festival is now a city-sponsored event). Although children’s sandcastle contests have been a feature of the revived festival, nothing has been attempted on the scale now proposed.

One of the reasons for that has been that, while the last regular White Rock Canadian Open Sandcastle Competition event was held in 1987, the event was subsequently cancelled over city and police concerns that the large crowds it was attracting were no longer manageable.

In a letter to council, however, Tobias said that the society has been researching the logistics of the contest for the past six months, and has won support from White Rock RCMP (Staff Sgt. Daryl Creighton is expected to appear in support of the proposal Monday night).

“Thankfully, a lot has changed in the 31 years since the last Sandcastle Competition – for instance, no overnight RV and car parking,” Tobias wrote.

“We know this would be a financial boost for the businesses in White Rock as well as the community at large… also, great promotion for the city.”

Research by the society has also included examining records of the original contest at White Rock Museum and Archives and a fact-finding visit by members to White Rock’s sister city, Imperial Beach Ca., which was inspired to create its own annual U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition in 1981, after being invited to attend White Rock’s second contest.

Tobias said the board has also met with original sandcastle contest organizers Tom Kirstein and Chip Barrett, as well as Couns. Megan Knight, Bill Lawrence, David Chesney and Helen Fathers, who have expressed interest in a revived contest.

Master sand sculptor Ted Siebert and other experienced sand sculptors have also offered to assist the project, Tobias said.

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