There will be no in-person events in 2021 for the popular annual Brant Wildlife Festival, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The event’s community facilitator, Cec Peacey, has been seeking financial support and made a presentation at the Town of Qualicum Beach council on Wednesday, Feb. 24.
Peacey said this year will be the festival’s 31st anniversary and the first time during a pandemic. It is a spring celebration to mark the migration of brant geese from Mexico to Alaska. The birds stop to rest and feed along the shores of Parksville Qualicum Beach before continuing on to their northern breeding grounds.
“Our goal is to keep nature migration and wildlife at the forefront of people’s mind providing a new appreciation to the natural areas that we are so lucky to have and at the same time keeping residents safe,” said Peacey.
This year’s festival will offer self-guided opportunities, said Peacey, for people to explore their own backyards and to view the land in a different way.
Another plan is for artistically hand-painted brant geese to be placed in various businesses in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area in March. People will be asked to locate as many as they can, take selfies with them and upload it to the festival’s Facebook page. The favourite goose will be voted and there will be prizes.
A mapped bird trail brochure that will be available at Parksville and Qualicum Beach tourism offices and online at the festival’s website, has been produced to give people a chance to visit different locations.
“They will know which birds they can see at this time 0f year,” said Peacey.
The budget for this year’s festival is $14,000 and $5,000 in kind provided by The Nature Trust. The organizers asked for Qualicum Beach council’s support in the amount of $2,500 which the town traditionally donates to the event. They also aim to ask the City of Parksville to donate $5,000.
Mayor Brian Wiese asked why Qualicum Beach offers less money than Parksville. Coun. Teunis Westbroek replied that Parksville has more accommodations compared to Qualicum Beach and benefits more.
“So we thought that was an appropriate amount,” said Westbroek.
Coun. Robert Filmer agreed with the disparity but with the current pandemic, he doesn’t expect the region to draw a lot of visitors. He made a motion to up the donation to $5,000. It passed, with Westbroek voting against it.