VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — It’s a dark day for an annual fundraiser in Stanley Park that benefits burn survivors and trauma patients.
Gord Ditchburn with the BC Professional Firefighters Burn Fund says postponing the holiday event, which was set to open Nov. 26, is a blow to the organization’s annual fundraising efforts.
“It’s our single largest fundraiser that we operate every single year. It will put a large dent into what we’re able to do for the community and the programs that we offer to burn survivors and trauma patients,” he says.
“Families will not be able to participate in coming down to the park, riding the train, seeing the lights that light up Stanley Park, partaking in that yearly tradition, and by extension donating through the Burn Fund.
Dr. Bonnie Henry clarified Monday that seasonal events like this one can’t go ahead until Dec. 7, if at all due to COVID-19-related restrictions.
“Right now, for this two week period, the events order doesn’t discriminate between indoor and outdoors,” she said.
“It means delaying the opening of great seasonal events.”
— Vancouver Park Board (@ParkBoard) November 23, 2020
Ditchburn says although the charity is disappointed, he fully supports the top doctor’s decision.
“We just can’t put people in jeopardy including firefighters being at the park to collect donations, it’s not right to do this,” he explains.
“We need to beat this, and we can’t beat this if we gather.”
The Bright Lights fundraiser has brought in nearly $3 million and has been running for 23 years.
The Firefighters Burn Fund is launching a 50/50 lottery, and anyone in the province can get a ticket.
Park Board Commissioner John Irwin says it’s still possible the event will be able to go ahead after Dec. 7.
“I know it’ll be saddening for kids and families, it’s unfortunate that that had to happen,” he says.
“Hopefully it ends on December 7th and we can get things under control Our policy is giving refunds, but should we open Dec. 8th, we will welcome you.”
With files from Miranda Fatur