City gears up for Canada Day celebrations

Canada Day celebrations in the province's capital are sure to blow your red and white socks off next week.

Canada Day celebrations in the province’s capital are sure to blow your red and white socks off next week.

To celebrate Canada’s 148th birthday, the City of Victoria has organized a number of performances by local and international artists, family-friendly events, multicultural programming, an international food village and of course, the annual fireworks display in and around the Inner Harbour.

“We’re looking forward to it especially since it’s the 50th anniversary of the Canadian flag, so our living flag is going to have more meaning to people,” said Charlayne Thorton-Joe, who has organized the celebrations for the past 15 years.

“For those of us who were born and raised in Canada, we take living in Canada a little bit for granted and for those who are visiting, new Canadians, they really take this day that is very special for them where they can recognize how proud of they are to be Canadian.”

And there is a packed line-up of family-friendly events.

The main stage performances include Vancouver’s Delhi 2 Dublin, The Boom Booms, “fairy-folk” musician Jordan Klassen, Juno-award winning performer Helen Austin, Carmanah and the Taiko Drummers. Montreal-based francophone electronic pop band Monogrenade will also take the stage just before sunset.

“We try to choose acts that show the diversity of our country,” said Thorton-Joe, adding she expects to see roughly 40,000 people on the day.

The fireworks display will begin at 10:20 p.m. with synchronized music and the last song being Oh, Canada.

B.C. Transit and the Victoria Police Department will be on alert during the celebrations.

On transit, riders may be asked to comply by B.C. Transit staff or the police, which could include a search.

“B.C. Transit will be ready for the additional people who come downtown to enjoy the entertainment and fireworks and we anticipate a safe, fun family-friendly celebration,” said John Barry, spokesperson with B.C. Transit.

VicPD officers, community ambassadors and reserves will be on hand for the event as well.

There will be several road closures that day, including Belleville Street from Menzies to Douglas streets and Government Street, from Humboldt to Superior streets).

The public is encouraged to bike down (there is a free valet service available) or take the bus down.

“We are always looking to make sure people come down and celebrate in a respectful manner. There’s always that small population that thinks it’s time to come out and party and indulge in too much alcohol, but we always say a true Canadian celebrates in a respectful manner and recognizes that this day is for all,” said Thorton-Joe.

The celebrations start at noon on Wednesday.