The Future of BRLA Fireworks

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Should the BRLA continue to organize and finance the annual Canada Day fireworks programme?



The BRLA has hosted a fireworks display from Cow Island for some 4 decades.

All costs are paid by the Association, primarily through:

  • Membership fees,
  • Directed member donations over and above membership fees, and
  • Inconsistent Heritage Canada (Government of Canada) sponsorship.

A licensed pyrotechnician, a BRLA member, donates his professional time and energy to produce the show, and BRLA volunteers spend many hours setting up and tearing down equipment before and after the show.

Recently, other communities on the lake have undertaken impressive displays including Rideau Mac Resort near Narrows Lock in the west and Rideau Ferry in the east.


  • We estimate that over 3,500 people view the fireworks each year from boats surrounding Cow Island and from the Portland Bay shorelines.
  • With our membership of just over 300 families, we estimate that more than 70% of those attending the event do not belong to the BRLA.


1. Safety

  • The show itself carries risks which impact our insurance costs.
  • The most obvious risks are fire and personal injury from exploding fireworks, whether on Cow Island, surrounding boats or neighbouring properties.
  • There are potential dangers associated with hundreds of boats departing in the dark of night at the end of the show, sometimes in inclement weather.

2. Environment

  • Are the spent cartridges, containing burnt chemical residues and toxins, contaminating the lake water and fish stocks when they land in the lake and sink to the bottom forever?
  • Does the noise, water and air pollution from the fireworks negatively affect the wildlife populations nearby the island?

3. Financial Impact

  • The cost of fireworks each year is escalating, causing us to either increase the budget or sacrifice the quality of the show.
  • Our support from Heritage Canada has become less dependable as priority is given to Canada Day events scheduled exactly on July 1st. We can only schedule this on Fridays or Saturdays to benefit our members, many of whom are not on the lake midweek. In the last 5 years, our application has been denied twice because of this and we expect to have the same challenge for the next several years.
  • As noted earlier, the cost of this event is carried by you, the members, with roughly 17% of your membership fee going directly to fireworks.

What's next?

Before making a decision, we would like to hear from our members. Please click the link and take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us on the importance of this programme to you and your family, your views on its continuation and, if so, in what configuration.

All responses due by Wednesday December 6th.