Even before Canada Day festivities kicked off in downtown Victoria today (July 1), Ken Kelly was delighted to see some people getting a head start wearing red and white apparel.
"Where's my camera?" asked the general manager of the Downtown Victoria Business Association.
"There's a woman walking by my window wearing a red sweater, a red skirt and red and white striped stockings. She's already getting ready for Canada Day."
Many Canada Day festivities around Victoria's Inner Harbour today are free, but the 40,000 to 50,000 people in attendance represent significant potential for an economic windfall for hundreds of downtown retail businesses.
"People are not only enjoying the free activities, they are stopping to enjoy a drink, enjoy an ice cream or enjoy a meal," said Kelly. "It's a big economic boost for everyone in the downtown."
Canada Day event organizer and Victoria Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe agreed.
"I can tell you my wallet is empty by the end of the day," she said.
Thornton-Joe said it is difficult to pinpoint how much money is generated, because other events, such as the TD Victoria International JazzFest, are running concurrently in the downtown core.
The city's Canada Day planning budget is $35,000, but through sponsors an additional $170,000 has been raised to cover the cost of fireworks, the stage and performers.