Drones expected to be part of Burlington Canada Day celebrations this year


Published March 6, 2024 at 10:32 am

Burlington will look to mix in drones with fireworks in time for this year’s Canada Day celebrations.

A City committee yesterday (March 5) decided to spend an extra $15,000 for the drones in addition to the $22,000 it costs for the fireworks.

Seventy drones will be included in the display at Spencer Smith Park.

The plan is considered a trial to gauge public response to the drones and whether they will be a long-term replacement for the fireworks.

The matter will go before City council next week for final approval.

Going into the meeting Burlington staff recommended bringing in the drones for 2025 but after a debate, councillors decided to act now.

The staff presentation indicated that other municipalities across Ontario are considering a similar move but have been taking a wait-and-see approach on who will jump in first. Burlington is ready to make that move.

“This is meant to be a proactive approach,” said Emilie Cote Burlington’s director of recreation, community and culture adding the City needs a plan in place in case of the air quality issues faced in the past. In 2023 forest fires in Quebec affected the air quality in much of Ontario and Burlington did not want to add to the situation. The fires eventually subsided and the fireworks at Spencer Smith Park continued as usual.

A report presented to councillors showed that drones may be the future for public celebrations due to the environmental and noise issues that are raised around fireworks.

“Fireworks can be damaging to the environment as they release a variety of pollutants into the atmosphere and water.” the report reads. “These pollutants contribute to climate change, harm wildlife, and affect human health. Fireworks also contribute to poor air quality. Many
studies in the United States have shown that on July 4th, air pollution increases by over 40 per cent with pollutants lingering in the air for days after the event.”

The report also says the loud explosions caused by fireworks have the potential to cause distress in animals and humans.

“Fireworks displays can trigger panic and feelings of fear and anxiety in those with pre-existing conditions as well as those who are sensitive to noise,” the report continues pointing out that drones produce no air pollutants, create minimal noise and are a reusable technology.

Several representatives of the fireworks industry addressed the meeting and pointed out the downside of drones citing the more expensive cost to operate and that they can fail because of technological issues. When they fail they fall out of the sky and can cause injury or damage. Environmental issues such as pollution are minimal, they said, because of the infrequent use.

While the decision was made to proceed, some of the councillors were hesitant saying that firework displays appear to be more spectacular than drones and that they have a long tradition of use in many cultures.




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