Primary sponsor pulls plug on Nanaimo Heritage Days

Heritage Days primary sponsor Real Estate Webmasters has pulled its financial support for the festival, but a new organizing association says the 2017 show must go on. - File photo
Heritage Days primary sponsor Real Estate Webmasters has pulled its financial support for the festival, but a new organizing association says the 2017 show must go on.
— image credit: File photo

Real Estate Webmasters financial support for Nanaimo Heritage Days might be a thing of the past, but a new association organizing the event won’t let lack of cash rain on their parade.

Real Estate Webmasters owner Morgan Carey posted on social media Tuesday he has pulled financial support for the event, citing lack of support from city council and local businesses.

In 2015, Carey guaranteed $50,000 to support Heritage Days celebrations with the understanding other sponsors contribute to lower his contribution. Carey praised volunteer workers and medical marijuana producer Tilray for sponsoring a portion of fireworks displays costs since the festival started.

“No sponsors: Other than Tilray – for fireworks only, which again we appreciate greatly – not a single other business stepped up to financially support the event in any significant way. Though we had some very kind small donations from some great friends like the folks at Bob Wall Contracting,” Carey wrote in his post.

Carey, who estimates his company spent $30,000, plus staff time on last year’s festival, said in an interview Thursday that he posted the letter because of numerous people demanding his company hand over festival websites or pay legal costs to transfer website ownership rights, for which he refuses to incur further costs.

“It’s not an ‘oh, poor me’ story,” Carey said. “If people hadn’t been harassing me I wouldn’t have said anything. I could care less. I’d just have moved on, you know.”

Carey also called out city council and Coun. Jerry Hong, the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association and local businesses for lack of support.

Hong, who owns entertainment venues, said he limited his assistance to advice on how to apply for city festival grant money to avoid conflict of interest.

“If [Carey] thinks that I bailed on him maybe I promised too much, but once you have a society formed it really is up to them, so I’m not really sure I could have been involved more had I known that he wasn’t interested in going after city funding but I always assumed that was the goal,” Hong said. “He has a right to be upset if he had asked for stuff to get done then that is on me.”

Amanda Orum is a member of a new association, yet to be officially named, of people, recruited by councillors Hong and Gord Fuller, that is applying to the city for festival grant money to organize a parade and a day of entertainment and food trucks in Diana Krall Plaza.

Orum estimates it will cost about $500 to organize the day’s events because the city provides traffic barriers and traffic control, portable toilets, garbage cans and other items.

“Pylons and all the safety vests and stuff, that’s all provided by the city,” Orum said.

Philippe Lucas, vice president of Tilray patient research and access, said in an e-mail Thursday the company had not been approached for sponsorship, so had made no decisions about supporting this year’s Heritage Days.

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