In similar fashion to the mythological phoenix of ancient Greece, fireworks have arisen again from ashes on council’s table.
At their most recent session, members received letters from the Forest Kiwanis Canada Day Committee and from the service club’s president voicing disappointment that Lambton Shores council on March 6 had passed a motion to grant an additional $6,800 for Grand Bend’s July 1 fireworks show and defeated a followup motion that would have provided comparable extra funding for Canada Day pyrotechnics in both Forest and Arkona. In keeping with previous tradition, all three committees had been granted $3,000 each to help fund their annual shows.
In anticipation of burdensome additional costs for their 2018 shows, the Grand Bend committee had requested $9,500 and the Forest committee $5,000 from the NextEra wind farm vibrancy fund but both applications were rejected as ineligible. Arkona’s committee did not seek additional funding.
Reacting to receipt of the two letters from Forest, council on March 27 approved a motion by Ward Four Coun. Ronn Dodge to reconsider the March 6 vote that denied extra funding to the Forest and Arkona committees. That produced considerable discussion during which Dodge said he calculated that Grand Bend’s extra $6,800 was 70 per cent of the amount its committee had requested.
Dodge suggested that both Forest and Arkona committees be granted 70 per cent of the $5,000 that Forest had been denied in its vibrancy fund application. Arkona area representative Ward Six Coun. James Finlay supported that concept but was reminded that the Arkona group had not asked for additional funds.
“Does anybody know what Forest and Arkona spend in total?” Ward Two Coun. Dan Sageman asked. “Make it proportional,” he suggested.
No one indicated awareness of the two committees’ fireworks budgets. Brianne Haist, chair of the Grand Bend group, had informed council that her costs had risen to $56,150 for the 2018 show.
A staunch opponent of any increases for pyrotechnic displays, Ward Seven Coun. Jeff Wilcox quipped, “Thedford should start a fireworks committee.” He added, “We want to do two wrongs to correct one wrong. We have policies and procedures for a reason.”
Ward Five Coun. Rick Goodhand told council, “Fireworks in Forest draw thousands of people.” That was a selling point also made by Grand Bend’s Brianne Haist who wrote that her show draws 20,000 to 30,000 people to the municipality.
Grand Bend’s Ward One Coun. Dave Maguire said he would support granting Forest $2,000 from the Lambton Shores opportunities and contingency fund to raise its 2018 support to $5,000.That resulted in an approved 5-3 recorded vote motion to grant the extra $2,000.
Supporters of the motion were councillors Finlay, Goodhand, Dodge, Maguire and Sageman. Opponents were Mayor Bill Weber, Deputy Mayor Doug Cook and Coun, Wilcox. Ward Three Coun. Gerry Rupke was not at the meeting.
In its letter, the Forest Canada Day Committee asked for an additional $5,000 from the opportunities and contingency fund which would have given them a total $8,000 for this year’s event. And it would have provided sufficient revenue to reverse cancelation of a highly popular children’s feature known as Red Line Inflatables and to cover ‘expected’ extra fireworks costs.