Canada's second largest winter carnival is seriously short of cash and asking the city to help ensure its most popular attraction isn't cancelled this year.
Bon Soo Winter Carnival has received in-kind services from the City of Sault Ste. Marie since it started in 1964.
In recent years, the 10-day event got between $20,000 to $35,000 annually in city services.
The municipal services include use of city equipment, staff and materials to service the carnival site and prepare Bellevue Park for the polar bear swim.
This year, the city's contribution was $20,000.
Next year, Bon Soo says it needs all that and 50 per cent more – an additional $10,000 to:
- supply and pile the snow at the Machine Shop parking lot from which the bum slides will be designed and created by Bon Soo
- assist with the installation of the prefabricated stairs for the bum slides
- remove the snow pile once the event is completed.
- the sign shop will assist with updating signs for Bon Soo as time allows
- assist with printing of event posters and flyers
"The bum slides are the most popular event draw. offering ten days of outdoor winter activities to all who visit," says Virginia McLeod, the city's manager of recreation and culture.
"The decrease in volunteer labour force and financial cost for equipment, labour and material for the construction of the bum slides has created a challenge for Carnival 2018," McLeod says in a report to Mayor Christian Provenzano and city councillors.
"It is evident through attendance and usage that the bum slides are a highlight of the carnival and would be missed by the community should this feature not be offered."
Bon Soo attracts 75,000 participants a year.
The only larger winter carnival in Canada is Carnaval de Québec,
From the beginning, Bon Soo's primary purpose was "to add excitement to the long winter season," McLeod says.
"Early organizers also recognized this great opportunity to boost tourism and business during the historically slower first quarter of the year."
McLeod says each Bon Soo carnival needs two things to succeed: sponsorship and weather.
"Financial restraints have caused the carnival office to adjust overhead costs and events to work within these limitations as they plan Carnival 2018."
"The decrease in volunteer labour force and financial cost for equipment, labour and material for the construction of the bum slides has created a challenge for Carnival 2018. It is evident through attendance and usage that the bum slides are a highlight of the carnival and would be missed by the community should this feature not be offered."
The additional $10,000 in services needed can be accommodated within existing city budgets, McLeod says.
City Council is expected to discuss the winter festival's request at a meeting on Monday.
The meeting will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.