Council says ‘no’ to fireworks funding request

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Would be like setting a match to $6,000: Coun. Harper

Olds town council has vetoed a request from the Olds Fashioned Christmas co-ordinating committee to provide $6,000 to help cover costs for fireworks.

In a letter to council, committee chair Lorraine Piller said the committee would like to set off fireworks on Nov. 24 as part of Olds Fashioned Christmas (OFC) celebrations and as a way to celebrate 25 years of hosting OFC events.

However, council voted down a motion to provide the money after Coun. Mary Jane Harper and others spoke against the idea.

Harper said it’s a lot of money to spend on something that is literally burnt up in minutes. Instead, she suggested using that money for something that would last longer, like perhaps improving lighting at Centennial Park or the Christmas village.

“I’m deeply disappointed that the Olds Fashioned Christmas (committee) has come and asked for once again, $6,000 for us to basically put a match to,” Harper said.

“I look at the Christmas display. It badly needs lights. No improvement has been made to the lights in the park, which could (have) a longevity to it.

“And I recognize that everyone loves fireworks. I like fireworks. But I can’t justify another $6,000 to be burnt up when there’s so much more that could be done for the Christmas light-up (celebrations),” she added.

During discussion, director of community services Doug Wagstaff pointed out that up until a few years ago, OFC organizers didn’t set off any fireworks.

They were able to set them off a couple of years ago when fireworks slated to go off during Canada Day were postponed, due to inclement weather. Then last year, OFC received money to set off fireworks as part of Canada 150 celebrations.

“I thought we made it perfectly clear last year that it was a one-time event. So that’s why I’m so disappointed; so disappointed,” Harper said.

After the meeting, Mayor Mike Muzychka expressed support for Harper’s position.

“It’s a touchy subject; everybody loves fireworks,” he said. “She had a good point that it’s basically putting a match to $6,000 and that perhaps we could find a better way to spend that money on something that would be a little bit more permanent.”

During an interview with the Albertan, Piller expressed disappointment with the decision but understood the thinking behind it. She said the committee may now look for someone else to help cover the cost of the fireworks.

“It was just something we had requested to help celebrate our 25th anniversary and council’s not going to allow that funding,” Piller said. “We might have to see if we can find somebody else to sponsor it, I guess.”

“I recognize that everyone loves fireworks. I like fireworks. But I can’t justify another $6,000 to be burnt up when there’s so much more that could be done for the Christmas light-up.”
COUN. MARY JANE HARPER

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Doug Collie

Doug Collie joined the Olds Albertan in 2014 as editor. He covers municipal politics, news, community events, arts and entertainment and sports happening in and around Bowden and Olds.