The White Rock Lights display – which has lit up the waterfront around White Rock pier and Memorial Park for the last two winters – seems likely to reappear in time for this Christmas.
White Rock Lights Society president Gary Gumley and former society director Brian Hagerman appeared before council Monday night – at council’s request – for an update on the status of the 2021 event.
“We’re hopeful we will get the lights back up for the Christmas season, at the least,” Hagerman said, suggesting that, while dates have not been finalized, the debut could be between Dec. 10 and Dec. 15, at the latest, with the display remaining up until as late as the end of January.
This year’s event could also include a White Rock Rotary Club-sponsored feature, the Pathway to P’Qualls (referencing a First Nations name for the White Rock itself) Hagerman noted.
Speaking to Peace Arch News following the meeting, Gumley acknowledged that some concerns over the future of the display had delayed plans and led to an internal dispute with directors.
“The society is going through a review of its mandate with an eye to restructuring the process of delivering the light display for 2021,” he said.
“I have a very broad vision for the future of lights in the community, but a number of board members felt uncomfortable with the scope of that vision. They felt it was prudent to build a light display for 2021 that was within the scope of what’s possible, given time constraints, and the constraints of COVID-19 and other concerns in the community.”
“We’ve been on a bit of a wild ride over the last month or so,” Hagerman told council. “There were some serious differences of opinion in the past, but I think, frankly, we’re past all those issues.
“Specifically, as a result of a lot of input (from) various stakeholders including potential sponsors, several city councillors, as well as White Rock Rotary, there’s an effort to reconstitute the society and bring everyone together again – and we hope that’s going to happen in the next three or four days,” he added.
“I remain interested to see if the lights can happen again,” Hagerman said, noting “it would be an oversight not to mention the work that Gary Gumley has done in making these lights come to the city.”
Formerly known as the White Rock Festival of Lights, the event was given preliminary city approval in January, as a Class C (society-produced and funded) event, with an overall city in-kind contribution of some $9,080.
This approval was with the proviso that the society meet certain conditions outlined in a staff report, including securing grant and sponsorship funding, ensuring all work is done by licensed electricians, with BC Hydro approval for extra power consumption, and obtaining liability insurance.
On Monday, city engineering director Jim Gordon said he didn’t “see any of it being a huge problem” from the engineering standpoint, provided plans are received well in advance, while recreation and culture director Eric Stepura said specified conditions are “things that have been delivered in the past.”
“This is an event that I think is very important to the community; it does drive the public down to the waterfront, it’s an excellent shoulder-season event and we’re here to support and work with the society to make it happen,” Stepura said.