Nova Scotia

Halifax to stick with traditional fireworks displays, won't use drones

There are no fireworks planned for Canada Day in Halifax due to COVID-19, but when they do return, the municipality plans to stick with the traditional shows. Council approved a staff report outlining plans for community and municipal fireworks displays.

While drones are better for people who have sensory difficulties, official says they're too costly at present

For now, Halifax won't be using drones and will be sticking with traditional fireworks displays for future municipal events. (CBC)

There are no fireworks planned for Canada Day in Halifax due to COVID-19, but when they do return, the municipality plans to stick with the traditional shows.

Council approved a staff report Tuesday outlining plans for community and municipal fireworks displays.

Councillors had asked staff to look into ways to lessen the impact on animals and those with sensory difficulties, such as people who have autism.

The report looked at the use of drones with LED lights, which is something Coun. David Hendsbee would like to see.

"Fireworks aren't necessary anymore," he said. "Light shows by drones are a lot more environmentally sensitive."

Cities in California, Arizona and Colorado have started using drones with LED lights instead of traditional fireworks to reduce the possibility of starting wildfires.

Drones too costly, says official

But Halifax's manager of culture and events, Elizabeth Taylor, said the use of drones could double the cost, estimating doing 10 shows with 300 drones would cost $500,000.

"There's also a question of what will be approved by traffic controllers for a significant drone display," she said.

Halifax will continue to use commercial fireworks for seven of its annual shows, including Canada Day and Natal Day over the harbour. Consumer fireworks, which have a somewhat weaker explosion, will be used for shows on the Halifax Common.

Taylor said the city is prepared to enhance shows with drones when the technology becomes more affordable. She also explained that pyrotechnics, which would slightly reduce the sound, would lessen the wow factor of shows.

"I can only imagine how the phone lines will light up if people go to a fireworks display and it's quite an underwhelming experience," said Coun. Sam Austin.

Coun. Shawn Cleary says the complaints he gets about fireworks relate to ones being set off by residents, not the city or community groups. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

Coun. Shawn Cleary said he is fine with the continued use of commercial fireworks for planned municipal events because he has never received a complaint about them.

"I regularly get complaints from people about impromptu shows that their neighbours are putting on that they weren't aware of and the dog, or the cat or the child goes crazy because it was just out of the blue," said Cleary.

The city will continue to notify communities about the timing of its fireworks displays. It will also now require proof of notification from groups that organize events that include fireworks.

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