© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee checks his notes as Roy Main, CAO for the City of Charlottetown, reads a motion to be voted on during the regular meeting of council Monday.
The Jack Frost Children's Festival is all but dead for 2013, barring an organization coming forward at the last minute to take on the financial risk.
That was the word from Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee on Monday night.
Lee told The Guardian that no one has come forward yet to take over the ownership of the event.
"My suggestion at this stage is that Jack Frost probably is not going to happen,'' Lee said. "Nothing has changed since the last time we talked (in late November). Nobody has come forward to own the Jack Frost Festival.''
The city had been in talks with one private firm but that firm pulled out when it saw the financial risk it was taking on.
The festival was launched nine years ago to fill a void in Charlottetown's tourism season. It also helped fill hotel rooms considering 60 per cent of those who bought tickets were coming from out of province. Approximately 14,000 people attended last year.
It was a festival that pumped about $3 million into the local economy.
Problems began when Tourism Charlottetown, the organization that owned the festival, disbanded last year. It morphed into Discover Charlottetown but the new organization has washed its hands of getting involved with events like Jack Frost because the event consistently lost money. The festival budget was around $500,000.
Lee said the city will attempt to fill the void left by the festival, but on a much, much smaller scale.
"I would suggest that perhaps a committee of council should look at trying to create a community event for February for around the same time period as Jack Frost and Islander Day.
"When I say community event, I'm talking about something that local kids and parents can enjoy the outdoors with but that's a suggestion at this point and time to council.''
Lee expects some councillors won't be happy with an alternative event.
"I suspect there will be two or three people on council who won't like the idea and will not support it. We'll see what happens with the other seven or eight (councillors).''
Lee says the city will not formally announce Jack Frost is cancelled because the municipality never ran the event.
"We're operating under the assumption Jack Frost is not going to happen.''
Lee said a new 'community event' would probably be created by public works and parks and recreation. Unlike Jack Frost, a city-run event would be free.
The city contributed $25,000 on an annual basis to Jack Frost but was not prepared to pay a whole lot more, even with financial help from other sources, such as sponsors and government.
"We need to know our costs up front,'' Lee said, explaining that factors such as weather often drove the cost of the festival much higher than was budgeted.