Volunteer organizers of the Osoyoos Fireworks Committee have announced the cancellation of the Canada Day fireworks show, a tradition in the town for the past 25 years.
“Despite commencing the planning of this annual event last February, permitting changes at the municipal level has resulted in numerous requests and delays. These delays have made it impossible for our volunteer committee to plan and execute this world-class event by Canada Day.
“We are deeply proud of our community, volunteers and the success of this event in the past years. This was an emotional decision to make and we are very sad to have to share this news with our community. We hope we can work with the local council and fire chief to bring it back next year.”
Comments on Facebook came in fast, questioning if there is any way to keep the fireworks going this July 1, as many come from far and wide to take in the annual show.
“So many things have changed — permits, insurance, the site size, storage of our equipment, etc. — but we are working on solutions and will have a timeline set for next year for applications. This has been devastating for so many — but we will be back next year with a vengeance.”
Many questioned if it was the Town that sidelined the fireworks with new permits and a required safety plan.
Mayor Sue McKortoff says not so.
“Town council and staff are very disappointed at the cancellation. It was the Fireworks Committee that made the decision,” said McKortoff to the Western News. “We will continue to work with nonprofits and volunteers to support all special events in Osoyoos.”
Fireworks boast being the largest Canada Day fireworks display next to Canada’s Parliament Hill celebrations in Ottawa. The volunteers, including the pyrotechnic team of 12 members, work tirelessly behind the scenes to order, pack and execute the annual event for the enjoyment of an estimated 30,000 people who attend, many booking campsites and hotels to take in the show.
Last year, boats came dangerously close to the fireworks because of the lack of police presence.
Normally the RCMP are there to patrol the waters so boaters don’t get too close but they were tied up dealing with a shooting that happened a couple of hours earlier at White Sands, a popular party beach on Osoyoos Indian Band land.
After that, town staff told the fireworks committee they had to come up with a new safety plan, said McKortoff.
“After last year, they had to do things differently,” she said.
According to McKortoff, the committee and town staff have had several meetings since the winter about a safety plan and abiding by new federal regulations for fireworks. They were also required to get insurance this year, which McKortoff said they didn’t get.
“They have to do it legally,” she added.
Recently, the town of Osoyoos came under fire by the organizers of the very successful Cactus Jalopiesn show. In a post on social media, JF Launier, the main organizer of the 20-year show, said the volunteers had no support from the Town this year.
The volunteers said they may not put on the event next year. The three-day show attracts 10,000 people and 700 cars to Osoyoos in June.
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