For the past 25 years the Meaford Kinsmen Club has wowed Meafordites with impressive Canada Day fireworks displays, but they are passing the torch to the municipality beginning with this year's celebration of Canada's 150th birthday.
In a letter sent to Councillor Shirley Keaveney on May 15 by Kinsmen member Tom Bumstead, the organization said that the club can no longer afford to stage the annual fireworks show.
“The Kinsmen club cannot afford to sponsor this year's fireworks, we have provided the fireworks for the July 1st Canada Day celebration for the past 25 years with very little help from the Municipality,” read the letter, which was discussed at the May 29 council meeting. “We collect donations from the public that attend the event and also have received financial support from some local businesses and other service clubs. As we discussed, the Municipality has used our cost for fireworks in the application for grant funding to run events that take place on July 1st. The Kinsmen Club has not received any funding from these grants to help out with our costs, yet Annan and Bognor have both received funding for fireworks from these grants.”
The Kinsmen Club said that in previous years the Canada Day fireworks shows have cost approximately $7,500 to stage, with just $3,000 of that cost recovered from the public as well as business and service club donations, leaving a funding gap that the club can no longer afford to cover.
The club suggested that given the special 150th celebration this year, the amount spent on the fireworks display should be increased to $10,000.
Members of council discussed whether the municipality should provide financial support to the event or assume responsibility for the annual fireworks display, and they ultimately supported the event being brought under the municipal umbrella, though some concern was expressed about where the funding would be found in the budget. Meaford Treasurer Darcy Chapman assured council that given the relatively small expense when compared to the municipality's $13 million annual operating budget, the funds can be found without concern of a significant impact on the budget.
Mayor Barb Clumpus supported the plan for the municipality to assume control of the event, calling it a 'win-win' for all parties.
“I have spoken with the Kinsmen to follow up on their letter,” Clumpus told council. “They really did not want the risk of managing the fireworks this year. I think they are quite content to let this go. This is not something they see in their future.”
Council agreed to assume responsibility for the fireworks this year and in future years, and assigned the event to the fire department to manage.
The decision by council was timely, given that while this year's fireworks display has been ordered, it had not been paid for, and time was running out.
“We have been in contact with the fireworks company and they have agreed to hold our spot until the end of May and at that time we are to either confirm that we are holding a show or cancelling it,” the club said in their letter to Councillor Keaveney.
The Kinsmen also noted that had council not agreed to fund the fireworks this year, there would not be a display on Canada Day at all.
“Unfortunately if council does not financially support this year’s fireworks there will not be a show. The upper management of the Municipality of Meaford has made it almost impossible for the service clubs in this community to raise funds but still come to us for financial assistance,” read the letter.
The Kinsmen Club has had a long history of community service in Meaford over the past 65 years, having been involved in or contributed to a wide range of projects such as the Blue Dolphin Pool, to supporting events like the Scarecrow Invasion and the Christmas Window Unveiling, as well as offering support to organizations like the Coyotes Running Club, the Curling Club, and many others.