Sydney veterans disappointed after Christmas craft show forces change of venue on Nov. 11
Veterans in Cape Breton say they're disappointed the city has decided to change the venue of a Remembrance Day ceremony.
Nearly 4,000 people attended last year at Sydney's Centre 200, but this year the arena will be home to a Christmas craft show, sending veterans to a much smaller venue.
“It's disappointing to lose Centre 200,” said Stephen MacLellan, president of Branch 128. “It was a perfect venue for everybody. It keeps everybody out of the weather and more people attended to pay thanks to the legion members and vets.”
Veterans will be moving from the 5,000-seat arena to the Joan Harris Cruise Pavillion, which seats 1,300. The smaller venue means fewer people paying tribute on a day dedicated to the men and women who fought for freedom.
Neeta Kumar Britten of the Cape Breton Flags of Remembrance believes veterans’ concerns should be put first.
“Anybody planning events, athletics, crafters, all things I love, we have to remember as Canadians Nov. 11th is about our veterans. It has to be from the start of the day to the end of the day,” said Britten.
With Nov. 11 falling on a weekend for the next two years, there's already bookings at the rink.
“Whoever was doing the planning to bring business into Centre 200 was booking based upon multiple day events happening over a three-year period and it just so happened it coincided with Remembrance Day,” said Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke.
MacLellan says the legions were not charged for using Centre 200 and he understands the need to make money, but also feels the ceremony will suffer because of the change.
“It takes away from the event, but we are going to make the best of it and try to put on a good show for the vets on the 11th,” he said.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.