OPINION: Community fireworks event needed on Halloween

Whether you love them or hate them, everyone heard the loud bang of fireworks being set off on Halloween night. 

And, just like every year, the debate follows on whether they should be allowed in Squamish.  

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There are generally two sides. One set of residents think the annual fireworks tradition should be allowed to stay. After all, they’re only allowed to be lit on three days a year (Halloween, New Year’s Eve and Diwali). 

Others are not so happy about the loud light displays. They say the noise startles their pets and harms local wildlife, while also being a nuisance to parents trying to put their kids to bed. 

Some communities in the Lower Mainland have banned fireworks, including the City of North Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey and Maple Ridge. Still, a spokesperson for the District says there is no plan to ban fireworks in Squamish, but residents must apply for a free permit and agree to certain terms. 

It’s a debate that sparked 160-plus comments on The Chief’s Facebook page. 

I grew up lighting off fireworks with friends every Halloween. We lit them off in my yard, on the road and at the park. It was the highlight of the night, especially as I got too old for trick-or-treating, so I was surprised to hear that it is a tradition mainly in B.C., not the rest of Canada. Now, my daughters love watching the displays. 

But I’m also very sympathetic to animals that fear the loud bangs. Wildlife can become disoriented. Birds are known to panic, fly into buildings and even leave their young without being able to find a way back. Many pets are also afraid, sometimes becoming startled and running away from their owners. 

A solution would be to create a community fireworks event on Halloween night, where fireworks could be lit in a more controlled manor. It would also be a great family-friendly place for people to gather once the trick-or-treating is finished. Perhaps it could be at Brennan Park, but there are plenty of other possible locations. 

An organized event would mean the fireworks would stay in one place and proper clean-up could be done. A group could plan and run it – any volunteers?

Of course, some people would still set off fireworks in other areas of Squamish but, hopefully, this would keep the celebration more centralized. 

Let’s keep the fun in Halloween, while also protecting our vulnerable animals 

 - Michaela Garstin 

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