Councillor Nrinder Nann wants Hamilton to ban fireworks and change city’s Canada Day display to drone show

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Hamilton City Council votes 9-5 to explore alternatives like a ‘laser light show’ or ‘drone show’ to replace Canada Day fireworks, citing environmental concerns. The motion by Councillor Nrinder Nann prompts heated debate among members, directing staff to study the feasibility of eco-friendly alternatives for the city’s annual event. Photo credit: Pexels

In a recent motion brought forward by Councillor Nrinder Nann (Ward 3 – East Hamilton Centre) and approved by Council, City of Hamilton staff are being directed to study the feasibility of replacing the city’s Canada Day fireworks event with a “laser light show” or “drone show.”

The motion, entitled “Celebrating Canada Day in a New Climate Change Reality,” was seconded by Councillor Tammy Hwang (Ward 4 – Hamilton East) and was approved by Council’s General Issues Committee in a 9-5 vote.

Although the motion only pertains to the city’s official Canada Day event and not fireworks launched privately, Nann also told Council that she hopes the city will also institute a “blanket ban on fireworks” in the future.

Nann’s motion says that “when traditional fireworks explode, metallic compounds are released into the environment that can be carcinogenic or toxic to both humans and animals.”

It continues by arguing that “short-term noise and light disturbances” cause “distress” to wildlife and since the City of Hamilton has “declared a climate change emergency” the municipality must explore alternatives.

A number of Councillors spoke against Nann’s motion.

Danko said that the city has “much more important things to deal with than taking away something that is fun and enjoyed by families all across the city.”

He also stated that banning the “once a year fireworks display” actually “makes a mockery of the seriousness of climate change” since the event has such a minimal environmental impact.

Councillor Matt Francis also expressed that he would be voting against Nann’s motion, saying, “I will have no part in cancelling Canada Day in any form in the greatest country on the planet. It should be celebrated with pride, it should be celebrated with passion, and should be celebrated with the joy of fireworks.”

At that point the discussion got somewhat heated, with Nann responding to Danko and Francis’ comments by laughing and noting that their comments “confused” her.

Nann added, “I don’t appreciate the insinuation that this motion is by any means seeking to cancel Canada Day. Come on, stop feeding the narrative that’s out there.”

Mayor Andrea Horwath, who voted in favour of the motion, said that the proposal was “worth looking at” and that Council will have “further details on it after receiving that report [from City of Hamilton staff].” 

She noted that the matter would then be discussed by Council again as this motion is not the final decision but simply direction to staff to report on the feasibility of the proposal.

As mentioned, the motion passed in a 9-5 vote.

Thus, tourism and events staff will now be studying the feasibility of alternatives to fireworks for the city’s Canada Day show.

Additionally, tourism and events staff “are directed to include a scoring strategy for the Request for Proposal for a five-year Canada Day producer contract bid that prioritizes an option that is responsive to [the city’s] climate action, biodiversity and public health priorities.”

Staff are expected to report back to the General Issues Committee in early 2024.

Voting Results

Councillor Nann’s motion (seconded by Councillor Hwang) CARRIED by a vote of 9-5.

IN FAVOUR (9): Mayor Andrea Horwath, and Councillors Maureen Wilson (Ward 1 – Chedoke-Cootes-Westdale), Cameron Kroetsch (Ward 2 – Downtown Hamilton), Nrinder Nann (Ward 3 – East Hamilton Centre), Tammy Hwang (Ward 4 – Hamilton East), Mark Tadeson (Ward 11 – Glanbrook-Binbrook-Mount Hope), Craig Cassar (Ward 12 – Ancaster-West Flamborough), Alex Wilson (Ward 13 – Dundas-Central Flamborough), Ted McMeekin (Ward 15 – East Flamborough-Waterdown)

AGAINST (5): Councillors Matt Francis (Ward 5 – Hamilton East-Stoney Creek), Tom Jackson (Ward 6 – East Mountain), John-Paul Danko (Ward 8 – West/Central Mountain), Jeff Beattie (Ward 10 – Stoney Creek-Fruitland-Winona), Mike Spadafora (Ward 14 – West Mountain)

ABSENT (2): Councillors Esther Pauls (Ward 7 – Central Mountain), Brad Clark (Ward 9 – Upper Stoney Creek)

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