toronto events

Ontario is giving away $9 million for people to create safe events during COVID

Hosting an event or festival in a safe way amid the COVID-19 era is no small feat, but the Ontario government just announced a $9-million investment to help make the task a little easier for both municipalities and event organizers alike. 

Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod announced the new funding at Ontario Place Thursday morning.

She said it will be used to maintain public safety requirements during innovative programs such as virtual Remembrance Day events, reverse holiday parades with drive-by static floats, drive-in music concerts and movies, holiday tree lightings and New Year's Eve displays that light-up iconic buildings.

"COVID-19 has had an unprecedented and devastating impact on our local festivals and events," said MacLeod in a statement.

"This important investment through the new Reconnect Festival and Event Program will continue to support Ontarians as they reconnect and experience all their local communities have to offer."

The new government program comes shortly after the announcement that the beloved Christmas Market would be cancelled for the first time in 11 years due to safety concerns, as well as the news that the Santa Claus Parade would be going virtual this year. 

The new funding from the Reconnect Festival and Event Program can be used for eligible expenses ranging from programming and production, to promotion, to mobile applications and website development, to implementation of health and safety measures.

Anyone interested in planning a COVID-19-friendly event can apply for the funding from Oct. 8 to Dec. 1., though it's only open to organizers with a minimum $50,000 operating budget and the capacity to safely accommodate a large number of residents.

"In a truly difficult year, the Santa Claus Parade has been more focused than ever on bringing holiday experiences to families," said President and CEO of The Original Santa Claus Parade Clay Charters in a statement.

"Programs like this funding could help us adapt and reimagine ourselves, until we can be back on the street in front of millions again in the future. In the meantime, the support of our sponsors, partners and government would ensure that Santa will still come to town."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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