Brentwood College won’t be having fireworks at its 50th annual Brentwood Regatta, to be held April 29 to May 1, as organizers had planned.
Despite the recommendation from a bylaw officer in the Cowichan Valley Regional District that the fireworks show be allowed, the CVRD’s electoral area services committee decided at its meeting on March 2 not to allow the fireworks, and an effort by Brentwood College to appeal the decision at the board meeting on March 9 also failed.
At the board meeting, Brentwood’s communications director Ian McPherson told directors that the college understands that society is increasingly moving away from using fireworks, and this would be the last time it would seek a permit for fireworks from the CVRD.
“We are celebrating a couple of our founders who, unfortunately, may not be with us much longer and also, for us, the regatta is an important calendar item during the year, and it’s something the community looks forward to,” McPherson said.
“We have done our due diligence [in regards to the planned fireworks show] and there will be no livestock within a 500-metre radius of where the fireworks would be set off. This is a milestone event for the college and the community and we’re asking that the board allow us to use fireworks at the regatta.”
But Blaise Salmon, the CVRD’s director for Mill Bay/Malahat in which Brentwood College is located, said he has spoken to McPherson and school officials several times over the last few years informing them that communities are moving away from using fireworks.
“What I hear locally are increasing concerns, particularly from owners of pets and livestock, that their animals are impacted by fireworks, as are birds and other wildlife,” Salmon said.
“Now is the time to move to other alternatives.”
The CVRD has been slowly moving towards banning fireworks for some time.
At a committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 26, staff recommended that permits for fireworks be issued for special events only, and each permit application be approved by the board.
But, after a lengthy discussion, the committee decided to have staff do some further research on the issue and provide a detailed report at a future COW meeting.
Currently, fireworks are only allowed with a permit three times a year — Halloween, New Year’s Eve and July 1 — within the CVRD, unless special permission is granted.
Alison Nicholson, the director for Cowichan Station/Sahtlam/Glenora, said that, in general, she thinks it’s time to get rid of fireworks for a variety of reasons, but a softer, more community-sensitive approach to the issue may be better as the district moves towards a total ban.
“From the perspective of the issues we have around fireworks, I think the time of year that the regatta will be held provides a low risk for wildlife and they wouldn’t be set off around any livestock, so I’m voting against denying the fireworks permit,” she said.
Lori Iannidinardo, the chair of the board and director for Cowichan Bay, said there may not be any pets or farm animals in the area where Brentwood planned to discharge fireworks, but spring time is when birds are nesting and they may be disturbed by fireworks.
“Fireworks are on their way out anyway,” she said.
The majority of the board voted not to issue a fireworks permit to Brentwood.