Halifax council studies quiet fireworks displays to avoid alarming veterans

A Nova Scotia city councillor is pushing for quiet fireworks in Halifax out of concern the noise is alarming veterans and people on the autism spectrum.

However, some in the pyrotechnics industry say the idea is likely to fizzle when the City of Halifax views the high costs, while a veteran with PTSD notes not all people with wartime traumas react badly to the shows.

An amended version of a motion proposed by Coun. David Hendsbee was sent to council staff on Tuesday night, following a 13-2 vote in favour of further study.

It requests examination of the cost and “possible benefits associated with using silent pyrotechnics over traditional fireworks,” along with information on the health impacts of the popular displays.

A few other Canadian jurisdictions, including Banff, Alta., have abandoned fireworks displays, though in Banff’s case it was due to concerns over frightening wildlife.

Ray Brazeau, a licensed pyrotechnician and president of StarLite Pyrotechnics Ltd., said the alternative to pyrotechnics is as much as four times more expensive, would occur close to the ground and would still make some loud noise.

“If you want something quiet, nothing is going to go higher than 12 feet,” he said.

Hendsbee, the councillor for Preston-Chezzetcook-Eastern Shore who brought the motion forward, said he’s been hearing from veterans in the region that the noise can trigger their PTSD.

“I heard veterans who’ve had to go hide in the basement and put on noise-deafening headphones because it brings back terrible memories of their war experiences,” the veteran municipal politician said.

He is looking for information on a “quieter, more gentle fireworks display,” with smaller amounts of explosives and less noise.

The largest and most spectacular fireworks displays in the city tend to happen over the city’s harbour.

However, the councillor said it may be wiser to have smaller events with less height and less accompanying noise.

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