Free fireworks offer sparks debate at Gibsons council

To celebrate its 110th anniversary, Howe Sound Pulp and Paper (HSPP) is offering to give Gibsons the gift of fireworks this summer.

But not all council members are ready to accept.

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“I have to be honest with you, I’m leaning against the fireworks now,” Mayor Bill Beamish said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “I think we had our 50th year of the Sea Cavalcade and it was a celebration, and we are looking in a new direction.”

HSPP had originally wanted to assist with Sea Cavalcade, which has been cancelled for 2019, Beamish said during the meeting, where he introduced correspondence from the mill.

Instead, Beamish told councillors, the mill had offered “to take a lead role in supporting the 2019 fireworks display,” adding that would include providing funding and the professional staff required. Fireworks are traditionally held during the Sea Cavalcade.

Coun. Annemarie De Andrade referenced previous council discussions about whether to fund fireworks in lieu of Sea Caval-cade and mentioned wildlife species of special concern, including the Pacific blue heron, impact on other animals, concerns over fire and the effects on the ocean, and climate change.

“I understand people love the fireworks, maybe kids enjoy it, but there are other options,” she said.

Coun. Aleria Ladwig couldn’t be convinced. Sea Cavalcade was a big part of her family’s summer, which she said makes it difficult to let go.

“I think the fireworks are great… I hear all the community sitting on their porches, and they bring all their families and friends together. It’s just such a celebration,” Ladwig said. 

Councillors Stafford Lumley and David Croal wanted more community feedback, and mentioned the economic impact of losing the display.

“It’s a tough decision and there’s not a lot of time,” Croal said.

Beamish suggested they thank the mill and ask if they would be interested in working on other ideas.

“It could be a film night in Lower Gibsons, it could be a concert,” he said.

The fireworks item will be brought to the June 4 regular council meeting.

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