Vancouver Car Free Day organizers plan month of smaller events in place of usual festivals

The organizers of Vancouver’s Car Free Day festivals are returning to in-person gatherings this fall, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them online last year.

The Car Free Vancouver Society says in a statement on its website that it is planning a month-long festival that will feature a series of smaller events, rather than the large street parties it has traditionally hosted.

The series of “markets, performances, parklets, bike rides, audio tours and more” will begin on Aug. 29 and run until Sept. 25.

“We want to safely engage with our supporters and partners and foster the community that is so important to us,” the society says in its statement.

The society has been organizing Car Free Day festivals in Vancouver since 2008, with events blocking off Commercial Drive, Main Street and the West End in non-pandemic years.

In 2020, the society held virtual concerts, scavenger hunts and audio tours, while not organizing any in-person events to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. The society says it wants to “safely engage” in person this year.

“We feel that this aligns with what our supporters are looking for in our events, and that’s a sense of community,” the society says. “By hosting a series of smaller events, we believe that the ‘car free’ vision can be experienced in neighbourhoods we have not reached before and provide more accessibility options, while also continuing to work with the partners that have supported us in previous years.”

B.C.’s restart plan allows for organized events like fairs and festivals in Step 3, as long as COVID-19 safety plans are in place. Step 3 is scheduled to begin on July 1 at the earliest. 

Step 4 of the plan, which is scheduled for Sept. 7 at the earliest, allows for increased capacity at large organized gatherings, such as concerts. 

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