Fireworks proceed following clarification of "political statement"

·4 min read

Eganville – Fireworks will light up the Bonnechere River on July 31 but it was clear the cancellation of the original Canada Day fireworks and the reason behind the cancellation were also causing a few fireworks in council chambers and behind the scenes.

“When it comes to our fire department if there is a political stance or statement, where do we stand on that?” asked Bonnechere Valley Councillor Tim Schison last Tuesday during a committee meeting of council.

“I don’t think there would be a political stance or statement coming from our fire department,” CAO Annette Gilchrist replied. “That would only come from council.”

The councillor explained he was referring to the cancellation of the fireworks just before Canada Day and what he read about the event in the Leader. As previously reported in the Leader the fireworks were cancelled on social media the day before Canada Day with the caveat, “out of respect for our neighbours, the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation and all Indigenous Canadians, we have made the decision to cancel tomorrow’s Canada Day fireworks.”

Later that morning the post was removed and replaced with a notice stating the fireworks were being postponed due to severe weather in the forecast for Canada Day.

Coun. Schison said he wanted more information on what had transpired.

“I was wondering if our fire department should be politically aligned or if it should be generic, we are cancelling the fireworks?” he asked.

Mrs. Gilchrist said the fireworks were cancelled because of weather. She added all of council was emailed that information.

“There was no political statement made,” she said. “I know we had a meeting planned to discuss the political impact of having fireworks on Canada Day, but we cancelled that meeting.”

Coun. Schison said he was trying to figure out why the political statement was made by the fire department.

“It was sent in error,” Mrs. Gilchrist said. “They thought we had had the meeting and council had made that statement.”

She said as soon as the fire department was told council had not had the meeting the post was retracted right away.

“I want to make sure something like that doesn’t happen in the future is all,” he said.

Mrs. Gilchrist said it would not and the issue was managed operationally.

July 31 Fireworks

Since Canada Day fireworks did not light up the sky on July 1, or July 3 as a rain date, BV had originally stated the fireworks would be on the long weekend leading into August and would be lit on Saturday, July 31.

Mayor Jennifer Murphy said she thought it would be nice to have the fireworks coincide with when local Olympians Melissa Bishop of Eganville and Maddy Kelly of Pembroke would be participating in the Olympics in Tokyo.

“We have not one, but two Olympians running in the 800 metres,” she said.

Coun. Schison pointed out Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards Township – which did have their fireworks on Canada Day – had two separate venues for the fireworks.

“Is there a possibility to keep the fireworks to next Canada Day and do it in three spots in the community?” he asked.

The fireworks could be not only in Eganville, but also Golden Lake and Lake Clear, he said.

Mrs. Gilchrist said this would not be possible since the fireworks have a shelf life of three months.

“We have to set them off no later than September,” she said.

“I was kind of hoping they would be for Canada Day,” Coun. Schison said.

Mayor Murphy said unlike KHR where a company lights the fireworks, in BV the fireworks are done by the firefighters and it would be impossible to have them at three locations.

“We don’t have the manpower to do them simultaneously,” she said.

Councillor Brent Patrick wondered about having the fireworks at Legion Field where there would be more room for spectators. Council had earlier discussed where spectators could enjoy the fireworks since the old Creamery property is blocked to public access.

Mayor Murphy said there would be too much damage at the ballfield.

“That would mean digging holes about six feet deep in the ballfield,” she noted.

Councillor Merv Buckwald said the fireworks should be done on July 31 as previously noted. All of council agreed. The fireworks will also be done at the same spot as usual along the Bonnechere River.

Council agreed to ask staff to investigate closing the bridge in Eganville so spectators could watch from the bridge.

“We might be at a better place to have larger outdoor gatherings,” the mayor said. “It is a great place to watch them from.”

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader

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