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Council to review annual Halloween Fireworks options in Williams Lake due to safety of horses

Concerns from local trail rider’s association, injured horse spark debate
The 43rd annual Halloween Fireworks included a bonfire. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake city council is reviewing the city’s longstanding Halloween fireworks tradition after concerns were brought to council regarding the safety of pets and animals.

At its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 2, council asked staff to prepare a report for potential alternatives to the fireworks display, put on annually by the city at the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds on Oct. 31.

In a letter to council the Williams Lake Trail Riders Association said they understand the fireworks are a great community event, however, there are negative effects the fireworks have on the horses housed at the Stampede Grounds as well as the pets and wildlife within the city.

The association said historically members move the horses out during the display or stay there with them, although due to weather or other circumstances it is not always possible to move them. They are asking the city to look for alternative ways to celebrate.

A horse owner, who used to board her animal at the grounds, penned a letter as well, noting in 2018 her horse was injured significantly when it tried to jump the fence during the fireworks display, even though she was with it at the time trying to keep it calm.

Her horse sustained injuries and since then she no longer boards him at the Stampede Grounds.

Mayor Surinderpal Rathor, Coun. Sheila Boehm and Coun. Scott Nelson said they don’t want to cancel the fireworks.

Rathor said people in the community are asking for the fireworks show to be increased or possibly launched at the lake.

In 2022, with leftover COVID funds the city put on a longer show and spent $12,500, but normally the cost is $6,500 for about eight minutes.

“If we can make thousands of kids happy I think the money is well spent,” Rathor said.

Coun. Joan Flaspohler said she looked forward to receiving a report from staff and then reaching out to the community as a whole for input, while Nelson and Boehm said it was a waste of staff’s time to prepare a report.

Coun. Angie Delainey and Coun. Jazmyn Lyons said they would like to know what other communities are doing so council could have a debate about the options.

Lyons said she loved the idea of a laser show as an alternative.

Coun. Michael Moses chairs the community services committee who first received the letters raising concerns and began discussing options with city staff.

“We are not looking to completely take something away. We have not even voted on this yet or seen a list of alternatives,” Moses said. “There is a good chance that we don’t find an alternative and that would be fine.”

Boehm and Nelson voted against staff proceeding to bring back a report.

READ MORE: Williams Lake Halloween bonfire, fireworks display a big hit with community

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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