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Protest over loss of large-scale Canada Day fireworks show in Calgary grows

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A petition, created in response to a city planning committee's decision to cancel a large-scale fireworks show on Canada Day in Calgary, is gaining momentum.

The online call, created by Common Sense Calgary, already has more than 6,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.

It was made in response to an announcement from the City of Calgary, which said it would not hold a large-scale fireworks show on July 1.

Last week, the city said it considered a number of factors in making the decision, including environmental, cultural and social impacts on Calgarians.

On Tuesday, Mayor Jyoti Gondek said those plans also carefully considered a number of concerns residents had about noise, crowds and traffic congestion.

"Also to recognize the fact that it's the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act and there's Truth and Reconciliation commitments."

She says anyone who is upset over the fact there won't be any fireworks is mistaken.

"To balance everyone's needs, the team is putting on a great event, which includes pyrotechnics from the stage, so there is that opportunity."

Other Calgary councillors don't agree with the decision from the arts and culture committee.

"My inbox has been flooded with people that are not happy with the decision and I agree. I enjoy Canada Day and I enjoy the fireworks celebrations that happen afterwards," Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean said.

"I regret that – I think there should have been a more fulsome engagement and, again, I've had residents call me, very upset."

McLean says one of those residents was a First Nations elder who called him in tears.

"She was confronted about being responsible for the fireworks not being held. I think it was poorly thought out and not very well conveyed to residents."

'FURTHER DIVIDE OUR COUNTRY'

Calgary Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel Garner says the "significant changes" to Calgary's Canada Day events are the wrong path to take.

"When our leaders make this choice a binary one, that as a people we can only do one at the expense of the other, we further divide our country instead of solving its problems," she wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

"Suggesting that Canada Day shouldn't be a day for any celebration does just that, and I won't allow my community to be pushed into that corner."

Rempel Garner says there is room for both celebrating Canada and acknowledging and addressing the "longstanding impacts of colonialism and racism."

"I trust that their hearts might be in the right place. But for all the reasons above, and as a Calgarian who deeply cares both about addressing past wrongs and protecting the future unity of our community, I implore them to immediately work to reverse this decision.

"It brings no good to our city."

FAMILY-FRIENDLY EVENT

Gondek went on to say that all of the Canada Day events have been geared toward families and there will be plenty of things to do, including observing a smaller version of a fireworks show.

"The arts and culture team has focused on a lot of programming for Canada Day and they've made this event as family-friendly as possible," she said.

"It's going to be held at Fort Calgary and there's going to be a lot of stuff going on that day to celebrate Canada Day."

McLean says council is asking for feedback about the plan to cancel fireworks on Canada Day, but Gondek says the decision was made by the committee and not council.

"There is no reversal that needs to be done by council," she said.

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