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Burlington flying idea of drone displays for Canada Day celebrations

The city's contract with fireworks operators expires after this year
Fireworks over the water during the 2022 Canada Day festivities.

Fireworks could fizzle out at Burlington’s Canada Day celebrations in 2025. 

During a Committee of the Whole meeting on March 5, councillors discussed the possibility of using drones as an alternative to fireworks on July 1, at Spencer Smith Park. A drone show is expected to cost around $14,000, while the current fireworks display runs about $22,000. 

“We’re not against fireworks by any means, this is meant to be a proactive approach,” Emilie Cote, director of recreation, community, and culture said. “With a contract coming up for renewal and staff looking at opportunities, and where this goes in the future.”

Cote compared the potential change to swapping from a gas to electric car. She said most people would expect to go with a hybrid before committing to full electric, but the city has an opportunity to be the first out the gate and test out drones. 

Burlington’s manager of events Kristina Clint showed a few minutes of a drone show from Wakefield, Quebec. The show featured 70 drones forming a maple leaf and spelling out O Canada. 

Ward 4 councillor Shawna Stolte asked if a drone display could be seen by as many eyes, as a fireworks show, specifically if the angles of the images would line up for people all along Spencer Smith Park. Several delegates from the committee meeting on Monday, had similar concerns, saying fireworks added a three-dimensional aspect to the show that can’t be replicated with drones. 

Other concerns from delegates included the noise of the propellers, though the noise of fireworks was touted as a positive by many. 

“It’s important that we’re responding to a huge number of complaints too,” Ward 2 councillor Lisa Kearns said. “We’d receive complaints saying it was a boring show, my office was bombarded with complaints about noise, post-traumatic stress triggers, pets, people calling us out on our climate initiatives, a whole gamut.”

Other delegates touched on the potential of drones crashing into the lake, and loss of business for fireworks operators and producers. 

The contract with the fireworks display operators expires after this year, so as of now there is still a planned fireworks display on Canada Day 2024 at Spencer Smith Park. 

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Chris Arnold

About the Author: Chris Arnold

Chris Arnold has worked as a journalist for half a decade, covering national news, entertainment, arts, education, and local features
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