Lantzville is planning on going ahead with a Halloween fireworks display this year even as other communities cancel their celebrations due to an Island-wide prohibition.
On its website, the District of Lantzville announced that its annual fireworks event will be held on Halloween, but instead of it being on land, it will be on the water where “there is no risk” of fire danger.
The Coastal Fire Centre has banned the use of fireworks for all of Vancouver Island until at least Oct. 28 due to above-normal fire risk stemming from the abnormally dry conditions that had persisted for months — the only exception is Haida Gwaii.
In an interview with CHEK News, Lantzville Fire Department chief Neil Rukus confirmed that the fireworks display will go ahead over water.
“Even with the fire ban in place, having the fireworks out on the water so that they’re far enough offshore, we have no concerns with any kind of wildfire risk at all,” Rukus said in a phone interview.
According to Rukus, the fireworks will be loaded onto a boat and are electrically controlled from shore and firefighters will be stationed across different access points.
“We’re kinda hoping that by doing the fireworks show out there on the water was the safest way to enjoy fireworks and celebrate Halloween without any concern of wildfires,” he said.
Marg Drysdale, information officer with the Coastal Fire Centre, said the ban that’s currently in place for the entire Island is classified as a category two and three prohibition, meaning anything larger than a campfire isn’t permitted.
“Currently, fireworks are not allowed within the Coastal Fire Centre’s jurisdiction,” she said. “Absolutely not within our jurisdiction at the moment.”
The ban, which is legally binding and in place until Oct. 28, is expected to be reviewed by the Coastal Fire Centre next week and could be rescinded before Halloween as a result of recent wet weather.
Drysdale said she isn’t sure whether the ban will be lifted. She said even though it has rained recently, that might not be enough and that it will come down to how much rain ultimately falls and whether it penetrates deep enough into the ground.
“We were expecting the system to come through Thursday night and on Friday night we didn’t get as much rain materializing as we expected. We do know that we have another system coming through tonight,” Drysdale said. “So, we will wait and see what kind of rain we get in the gauges before we make any alterations to the prohibition that we currently have in place.”
Although Lantzville is planning on going ahead with the Halloween fireworks, that could change. Rukus said there has been no consultation with the Coastal Fire Centre and when specifically asked about the fireworks ban in place, he said didn’t know there was one.
“I am unaware of that,” he said. “That’s something we definitely have to check into and if that is the case, then we wouldn’t be doing it.”
Qualicum Beach and Central Saanich have cancelled their planned fireworks displays because of the ban while numerous other communities, including Lantzville, Saanich, Oak Bay banned the public from putting on their own firework displays or holding bonfires.
Christopher Sumando, captain of the Qualicum Beach Fire Department, said instead of putting on fireworks, firefighters will be going around the community handing out candy and informing residents about the fireworks ban. He said cancelling the display was difficult but necessary given the current environment.
“We’ve had a pretty dry season and we’ve only had a couple of days of rain, if any. So any of that moisture hasn’t really gone down deep into the ground. It’s all pretty surface-level. So what we’re just trying to do is prevent anything that could happen,” he said.
Central Saanich Fire chief Kenn Mount said cancelling his community’s fireworks display wasn’t an easy decision, but that conditions aren’t favourable for a display.
“What we’ve seen so far is not enough precipitation and we’ll be looking at the fire science behind it, in order to lift the ban when risk is reduced,” said Mount in a phone interview with CHEK News.
Meanwhile, Rukus said he will now consult with the Ministry of Forests about Lantzville’s decision.
Lantzville’s display is near Sebastion Beach, located between Sebastion Road and Oar Road.