Calgary reinstates Canada Day fireworks

The City of Calgary has reinstated the Canada Day fireworks after it received feedback about the initial announcement axing the display.

“We have heard from many Calgarians as well as members of City Council that while the pilot program is valued, they would also appreciate an aerial fireworks display to celebrate on July 1,” the City of Calgary manager David Duckworth said in a statement Thursday.

“We are working with partners to confirm an appropriate site and will share details as they become available.”

This comes after the city announced the decision to axe the traditional celebration, sparking controversy and public pushback.

The city cited the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Immigration Act and cultural sensitivities around fireworks displays in relation to Truth and Reconciliation as reasons to can the display.

It also said fireworks can negatively affect wildlife, with the location of the main stage aligning with Canada’s Migratory Bird Act, which does not “permit disturbances to nearby nesting birds during breeding and nesting periods.”

Watch: Calgary ditching Canada Day fireworks

With the announcement, the city says it remains committed to cultural sensitivities while “respecting the diverse make-up of Calgary.”

It also says the city will continue to offer diverse, educational, and inclusive programming for Calgarians to celebrate culture and community.

Meanwhile, plans for an “enhanced pyrotechnic show” will continue, including a light and sound display at Fort Calgary’s main stage during the headliner act.

Even Spencer, councillor for Ward 12, wrote in a tweet that, while exciting, he found the “whole situation troubling for a variety of reasons.”

He tells CityNews the city is always attempting to unwind “huge challenges,” adding he received emails about government overreach and the invasion of “wokeness.”

“There’s things that happen, decisions that are made, that then kind of become the flashpoint or the lightning rod of much bigger frustrations that a community holds, or fears that a community holds,” he said.

“So in a response, you end up with a … fear-based and frustration-based communication, which generally doesn’t lead to the kinds of outcomes that we would long for as a society.”

He says the reaction was so large mostly because it was happening on Canada Day and the city was genuinely trying to walk a “tenuous new path forward” in moving away from the fireworks.

“Canada Day is in and of itself an icon of our desire to come together to create something better. But of course, it has, particularly with the indigenous community, also has other ways to be interpreted,” Spencer explained.

He says the intention and the meaning behind the fireworks were lost, saying the celebration was going to continue.

“There was also going to be fireworks, but they were going to be localized,” Spencer explained. “It ended up becoming a much bigger conversation and flashpoint than I think it needed to be.”

“But at the same time, I was happy to join the push to bring them back because if we erode the ability to have the conversation and just keep feeding fear, and anger and frustration, we’re not going to heal as a society.”

While he says the city ultimately made the right decision with the fireworks, he asks people frustrated or “mad at any level of government” to be curious before jumping to conclusions.

“I do have concerns about what we just witnessed in terms of the tone of some of the emails that were in our inboxes and the way in which political ideas like this are being used to do some unsavoury things in terms of whipping up a frenzy,” he said.

“And so my hope would be that Calgarians join fully to all the celebrations that are coming this summer and get to know why people that live right across from them on the street that might look at issues differently and that they actually … share a lot in common, while at the same time, holding different views on different political issues.”

More information can be found about Canada Day celebrations online.

Most city councillors file motion to bring back Canada Day fireworks

The news comes after 10 of the City of Calgary’s 14 councillors signed a notice of motion to bring back the Canada Day fireworks.

The motion was set for a June 1 Executive Committee meeting.

Ward 1 Councillor Sonya Sharp says their decision was made after a conversation during council when Duckworth said the Canada Day celebrations would not include fireworks.

She tells CityNews before the fireworks update that the timeframe between the motion and July 1 is “a lot of time for city administration to remove any obstacles and get the … traditional fireworks ready for Canada Day.”

“We heard from a lot of people. They’re very proud to be Canadian, and Canada Day is where they can come together with a family and celebrate what it means to be Canadian today,” Sharp explained.

“We’re hearing from all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds. People that were born in Canada, people that have immigrated, people from various cultural backgrounds, including Chinese, Native, Meti, Indigenous.

“Canada Day is a celebration for all Canadians and everyone that lives here.”

She says Canada Day celebrations aren’t meant to diminish “significant events in history,” adding Canadians continue to recognize the wrongdoings in the country’s history.

“The City of Calgary takes this very seriously,” Sharp said.

“I know my councillor colleagues, and I take reconciliation and … anti-racism work very seriously as well. So, we wanted to reinstate the traditional fireworks so that we are celebrating all Canadians.”

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Prior to the addition of the fireworks, Sharp says she felt the initial decision by the City of Calgary administration was “largely political,” despite them saying it was an operational administration decision.

Council members received a memo two weeks before the announcement, and Sharp says she was surprised by the change and said the only option was to put forward a notice of motion.

Councillors Sonya Sharp, Jasmine Mian, Jennifer Wyness, Dan McLean, Andre Chabot, Sean Chu, Evan Spencer, Terry Wong, Raj Dhaliwal, and Peter Demong filed the motion.

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