The City of White Rock is still hoping to upgrade Memorial Park on the waterfront in time for Canada Day by the Bay festivities next summer.

The City of White Rock is still hoping to upgrade Memorial Park on the waterfront in time for Canada Day by the Bay festivities next summer.

White Rock races clock for waterfront festivities

Contingency plan developed in case Memorial Park upgrade is not finished in time for next year's Canada Day by the Bay

The City of White Rock has been forced to contemplate celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday – and White Rock’s 60 years as a city – away from the waterfront next year.

While ‘Canada Day by the Bay’ is a long-standing city tradition every July 1, council Monday evening authorized a contingency plan for 2017 celebrations in case the planned Memorial Park upgrade is not completed in time for them.

In answer to a question from Coun. Helen Fathers about the need for such a plan, recreation and culture director Eric Stepura acknowledged that the question of what to do about Canada Day celebrations, in light of the evolving Memorial Park design, has been the cause of “some sleepless nights.”

Council Monday approved a deadline of Oct. 31 for submitting final concept design and estimated costs for the Memorial Park upgrade to the finance and audit committee.

Contracted landscape architect Richard Findlay has been working to incorporate public feedback received on the design at two open-house sessions held last month.

Minutes of the Oct. 14 Memorial Park committee meeting suggest, however, that a  grand staircase and accessibility ramp planned for the park may mean relocating the existing washrooms further east, pushing back the timing of the project.

Possibilities raised in the meeting include moving Canada Day celebrations to another location, or planning them around ongoing construction of the park upgrade, which might involve bringing in temporary washrooms.

“It’s a challenge when you have construction going on,” Stepura told council.

“Do we keep Canada Day at the waterfront, or do we move it up to Centennial Park?”

Stepura said planning may have to include the reality of the Memorial Park area being “a construction zone.”

And even if celebrations are scheduled for Centennial Park, it’s likely that some residents will still come to the waterfront for them, he added.

“We have to find ways to move people safely to and from the event.”

The next meeting of the Memorial Park upgrade committee is scheduled for Oct. 28, after which there will be a further report to council, Stepura said.