For the last 14 years, West Vancouver citizens have enjoyed about 20 minutes of fireworks off the shores of Dundarave each year. As many as 10,000 people view the fireworks show from the waterfront and many more enjoy it from their homes with friends and family.
But people may not get to see the spectacle for long.
Port of Vancouver has funded a dual-barge Canada Day fireworks at the harbour in front of Canada Place and off the shores of Dundarave. But now the Port wants to focus more on the Canada Place fireworks. It has told the district that funding for the fireworks in West Vancouver would be phased out in the next two years.
West Vancouver chipped in with $15,000 in 2018 and $25,000 in 2019. By next year, the port wants the district to give $20,000 to $30,000 towards the celebrations. By 2021, if West Vancouver wants fireworks, it will have to pay the full amount needed to put on the show — $60,000 to $75,000.
At a council meeting on July 22, the staff suggested the district shouldn’t spend any more than $25,000 on the fireworks.
“It is not recommended that $40,000 to $50,000 increase in funding be paid by the taxpayer. Rather, it is recommended that additional incremental costs be provided by the federal government through granting programs or by potential donors,” said Christie Rosta, events and festival manager for the district.
According to Councillor Bill Soprovich, that scenario doesn’t seem very likely.
He suggested the staff talked to the community in the context of recent climate-change motion. “With climate change emergency and the effects of firecrackers and fireworks on climate, perhaps we can go to the community and see how they would respond to this business.”
Councillor Peter Lambur also agreed with Soprovich. “It would be a good idea to poll the community about what they think about fireworks, in the context of climate change and emergency.”
Lambur also asked the staff to look for sponsors. “By my calculation, it is only $4,500 a minute. So at that level, I am sure you will be able to find someone,” he said, jokingly.
But the staff has already tried that in previous years and found very little interest. It said it would try to find secure funding through Heritage Canada grants, but warned the council the possibilities for federal funding were bleak.
But that may not be such a bad thing after all for Amy Morris of SPCA. She is urging the district to put an end to the use of fireworks in West Vancouver because the noise caused by them is frightening and stressful for many animals.
At the July 22 council meeting, with Councillor Sharon Thompson opposed, the council voted to increase the budget from $15,000 to $25,000. The staff will look for corporate sponsorships or federal grants.