The 'best summer in Alberta's history' one year off, predicts local festival producer
An Edmonton festival producer believes the premier's prediction this could be the "best summer in Alberta's history" is premature considering the current state of the worldwide pandemic.
On Tuesday, Jason Kenney said when about two thirds of Albertans have immunity – through either previous infection or vaccines – the province will consider lifting "almost all restrictions."
"Fairs and festivals would be able to proceed. Masking and distancing would be encouraged but not mandated," he said during a provincial address.
"If we just stick to our guns for a few more weeks, we'll head into what I truly believe will be the best summer in Alberta's history."
Kenney said the province predicts about 64 per cent of Albertans will have some level of immunity by Canada Day but some question his timeline on returning to normal.
"I cannot see Edmonton Folk Fest, Calgary Folk Fest, Stampede, Fringe Festival, any of those things happening in any sort of regular, high attendance way," Brent Oliver told CTV News Edmonton.
"The big thing about any of these events is that they can't happen in a vacuum. They need some planning. They need some advertising. You can't get national artists to come to Edmonton or Calgary or wherever without some significant safety concerns."
Oliver is helping put on the Downtown Live festival this summer.
The event – presented by the Downtown Business Association – includes more than 40 "micro events" featuring music, theatre, dance and performing arts.
"I think best case scenario, it's a little bigger than last summer which is about 200 person gatherings," he said. "I think the premier is right about the best summer of our lives but I think he's a year off."
'IT'S REALLY ENCOURAGING TO HEAR THE NEWS'
The president of Trixstar Productions is more optimistic about normal summer events.
He said his company is currently planning more than a dozen that will likely be announced in May.
"Our industry has been shut down for the last 13 months and getting news like this is really encouraging," said Mike Anderson.
He added that he hopes people will do their research on vaccines and book an appointment as soon as possible.
"This is really important for our industry. Tens of thousands of people are out of work and this will really help get people back to work," he said.