Italian Day on the Drive is now included in the list “Official Celebrations and Observances” in the City of Vancouver.
Council approved the measure Wednesday (May 2) after hearing from speakers.
Italian Day on the Drive is one of the biggest public events in the city, attracting 200,000 participants last year.
Councillor Melissa De Genova brought forward the motion, and talked about her Italian heritage at the meeting.
De Genova related that her grandfather, who was a stone mason, helped build Stanley Park seawall.
She also recalled that her great grandfather was among the Italian immigrants who were interned during World War II.
Brunella Gaudio, executive director for the Italian Day celebration, addressed council supporting De Genova’s motion.
According to Gaudio, the festival brings a lot of benefits to the city. These include bringing families and communities together. She also said that event boosts local businesses.
“It is an embracing event,” Gaudio said.
John Teti, a prominent figure in the hospitality business, and Randy Rinaldo of the Il Centro Italian Cultural Centre, also spoke in favour of De Genova’s motion.
“I’m a proud Italian,” Teti declared.
Rinaldo shared with councillors printed copies of a commentary by Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith, which states that Italian Day on the Drive deserves recognition by the city.
The vote on the inclusion of Italian Day on the Drive in city’s list of “Official Celebrations and Observances” followed a brief recess in council meeting.
Meeting chair and councillor Heather Deal called a recess following a row that resulted when Councillor Andrea Reimer brought forward a strike and replace motion to De Genova’s original motion.
De Genova’s original motion pertained only to Italian Day.
She was caught off guard by Reimer’s alternative motion which was to confer the same designation to Car Free Day, Greek Day on Broadway, Dragon Boat Festival, and the Khatsalano Street Party in 2018.
De Genova said that she felt “slighted and offended”.
According to De Genova, Reimer could have notified her in advance.
Italian Day on the Drive happens on June 10. It will span several blocks on Commercial Drive, from Venables Street to Grandview Cut.More