There will be no Winterfest celebration in Castlegar this year.
The organizing committee has announced that the 19th annual Winterfest Family Celebration has been cancelled due to planned labour action by striking CUPE city workers during the event.
The committee decided to cancel the event after hearing that some participants would not continue in the event if the CUPE city workers were maintaining a picket line.
CUPE 2262 issued the following notice in the form of a media release stating that “CUPE city workers will be maintaining picket lines during Winterfest, including the planned tree lighting on Dec. 5, 2014.”
“When we looked at the situation we found lots of people in the community would feel uncomfortable crossing the picket line. And if people aren’t going to show up you can’t run an event,” explained Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff.
“It’s a family thing and a community thing and the decision came down that if that was going to happen and they were going to picket then we couldn’t put up the event.”
“It’s a shame we have to cancel the event,” Chernoff continued, “but people respect the picket lines and won’t cross them and that’s fair to what’s happening out there. We don’t want to agitate people on the picket line. That’s not what we’re looking for; we’re looking for a solution.”
CUPE 2262 attempted to acquire a new venue for Winterfest.
In a more recent press release, Leford Lafayette, CUPE 2262 president said, “CUPE is hopeful that we can find something that works so that Castlegar families — including our own — can get together during this holiday season to celebrate and honour our commitment to community.
“Our picket lines are up at public facilities because we want to be at the table talking — we want a fair and reasonable contract — but so far city has refused to re-engage with us,” he added.
The Winterfest committee said in a press release that the event will remain cancelled due to a lack of time to make alternative arrangements.
It went on to say the committee has “worked hard to organize the 2014 Winterfest event and is deeply disappointed these actions have forced them to cancel the parade of lights and the opportunity for children to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus in the Spirit Square.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank the community, the numerous volunteers and the generous sponsors for your many years of support of this much anticipated annual celebration.”
Senior and exempt staff will continue to provide essential city services until the strike is resolved.