The Cowichan Valley Regional District will allow a fireworks display that is part of a movie production at a summer camp at Mesachie Lake during the first week of May.
The CVRD’s board made the decision in a tight vote at its meeting on April 27, just weeks after the board denied a request for a permit from Brentwood College to have a fireworks display at its 50th annual Brentwood Regatta, that was held April 29 to May 1.
Ian Morrison, director for Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls, said a Hallmark movie, called Camp Christmas, is being filmed at Camp Imadene and the producers have made a late request to the CVRD to conduct a small fireworks display as part of the movie.
He said there have already been some discussions with the surrounding community about the planned fireworks and he has been informed that the Mesachie Lake Fire Department has been told about the plans and is prepared to support it with back up.
Correspondence from the producers to the CVRD also indicated that the neighbours within a kilometre of the fireworks will be canvassed and advised to keep pets inside at the time.
But board chair and director for Cowichan Bay Lori Iannidinardo, who is a firm advocate of a complete ban on fireworks, said that, whether it’s for economic development or any movie sets, she still remains totally against the use of fireworks in the CVRD, especially in the spring when birds and wild animals are nesting.
Ben Maartman, director for North Oyster/Diamond, said he’s having difficulties with the CVRD’s lack of consistency on permitting fireworks in the district.
“I know we want to try to move in a general direction with this issue, but we have turned down fireworks permits for others,” he said.
“I find it inconsistent if we allow this and turn down others.”
Morrison said geography has a lot to do with the context of this particulate application for a fireworks permit.
He said Camp Imadene is substantial property and far from most of the community.
“There are no farms in the area so I think there will be limited impacts,” Morrison said.
“Plus the size and the scope of this [fireworks display] is not meant for thousands of people to watch. It’s going to be a display of a nature that is meant to fill the screen and won’t be huge. This will be done in a safe place and shouldn’t be a major impact to people in the area. From an economic development and film perspective, this is an important application for us to consider.”
Lynne Smith, director for Saltair/Gulf Islands, picked up on Maartman’s statements on the issue and said the board has recently denied one application and it’s important for the district to be consistent in regards to the use of fireworks.
“In the film industry, I believe they would have the technology to build fireworks into a production through cinematology or editing,” she said.
“I have concerns about this going into the nesting season and I don’t think this is a good time to do this.”
Currently, fireworks are only allowed with a permit three times a year — Halloween, New Year’s Eve and July 1 — within the CVRD, unless special permission is granted.
At a committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 26, staff recommended to the board that permits for fireworks be issued for special events only, and each permit application be approved by the board.
But, after a lengthy discussion on the many health and safety issues around fireworks, the committee decided to have staff do some further research on the matter and provide a detailed report at a future COW meeting.