Canada Day Fireworks

Sunday July 1st, 2018

Cow Island @ Dusk

Rain Date: Monday July 2nd


Results of Fireworks Survey

In November 2017, the BRLA Board of Directors conducted a Members' Survey on the future of our annual Canada Day Fireworks programme, which has been hosted and paid for by the BRLA for some 4 decades.

Our goal was to gain members' input on whether benefits of this programme still outweigh the safety, environmental and financial challenges it poses. We did this by presenting a number of questions about the past and current importance to members' and their families, their views on its continuation and, if so, its future format. 

129 BRLA members participated in the survey (41% of our members at the time), which reveals the keen interest in the community about this event.

General overview of the responses (please note that all percentages shown relate to the base of 129 respondents):

  • 63% have watched the BRLA fireworks every year for the past 4 years.
  • 65% watched this year, of whom 67% watched from the water, 19% from their cottage, 8% from a public space on shore and 6% from “Other” sites.
  • 72% plan their summer activities to attend BRLA’s fireworks.
  • 73% support the continuation of the fireworks programme in its current configuration.
  • 74% believe that “fireworks are important to the legacy of the BRLA”.

Clearly, fireworks are important to the majority of the respondents who want to see the programme continue.

But the survey also showed serious concerns from many members as shown below:

  • 46% believe “It is unfair that non-members enjoy the benefits of fireworks paid for by BRLA members.”
  • 30% believe “fireworks cause environmental damage to the lake”.
  • 27% do NOT think that “fireworks are important to the legacy of the BRLA”.
  • 27% do not support the continuation of fireworks in its current configuration.
  • 35% did not watch the fireworks this year.
  • 23% believe the current programme “is too expensive”.

It’s difficult to quantify general concerns because we didn’t ask specific “concern” questions.

However, 3 of the 10 survey questions did allow for additional comments and we received 293 comments, over 2 per respondent.

The concerns, in order of significance centred on 3 issues:

  • Cost
  • Environment
  • Safety

Moving Forward

Responding to your input, the Board will proceed with the 2018 Canada Day Fireworks, on Sunday, July 1st.

We will look to amend procedures, where possible, to address concerns noted below and will continue to monitor results each year to ensure the programme’s viability.

Cost

We estimate that over 70% of attendees at fireworks are not BRLA members and relatively few of them support the event financially, due in part to our inconsistent efforts to solicit donations from them.

The Fireworks Programme uses roughly 20% of BRLA’s annual revenues, which we hope to reduce to ensure the programme’s sustainability. We have been awarded a Heritage Canada grant of $2,250 to support this year’s fireworks. It is unlikely that we will to continue this in the next 4 to 5 years as Heritage will only support Canada Day events scheduled on July 1st. We know that Monday to Friday evening events are not well attended because of the many weekend residents.

We also anticipate that costs could increase depending on the results of researching environmental impact and the declining availability of the few volunteers who help set up and take down the event.

To increase financial support for fireworks, the Board intends:

  1. To collect donations from viewers both in boats and on the shoreline.
  2. To ask BRLA members to volunteer to collect the donations noted above.
  3. To seek commercial sponsorships to support the event.

Environment

Environmental concerns centred on pyrotechnical debris sinking to the bottom of the lake around Cow Island, impacting the lake’s resident species.

In addition there is concern about the noise and its effect on both wildlife and cottagers in the area nearby. The latter is by definition difficult to address without cancelling the event altogether.

But the Board has undertaken to:

  1. Investigate sourcing more efficient fireworks that minimize unburned contaminants falling to the ground/water.
  2. Look to ways to clear the water surface around Cow Island to remove floating waste – the Cow Island grounds are cleaned up as part of the tear down procedure.

Safety

Safety issues centred on concerns about boating traffic, both speed and volume, leaving after the event in complete darkness. While this is an issue over which we have no control, we will encourage increased diligence through a messaging campaign promoting the event.

Volunteers

Another key challenge involved in executing this programme is volunteer help - it takes 3 days to set up and take down fireworks, all of which is done by volunteers.

The setup and execution of the event is directed by Mike Fraser, a licensed pyrotechnician, who brings his own volunteers who are qualified to handle explosives. But it is BRLA volunteers who help move the materials from the mainland to the island, clean up the island the day after the event and then remove the garbage back to the mainland. Those volunteers are in decline and if that continues, we will face paying for that work to be done at commercial rates. That will put the programme’s cost through the roof!

Before that happens, the Board has undertaken:

  1. To create a data base of BRLA volunteers, created during annual registrations.
  2. To contact volunteers requesting help for specific programmes, events and projects throughout the summer.

We would like express our thanks to all those members' who took the time to complete our Fireworks survey; your input was helpful and very much appreciated!