||Thunder in the Valley Committee Reacts
Upon learning of Crowsnest Pass Municipal Council's decision to cancel the upcoming Thunder In The Valley event originally scheduled for July 2012, we would like to express our sincere disappointment. For the past eighteen years we have poured our hearts and souls, as well as thousands of volunteer hours, into putting on one of the largest fireworks shows in southern Alberta. We would also like to thank the people of the Crowsnest Pass for their overwhelming support that has allowed us to continue for almost two decades.
It has been made evident to us over the past few months that Council, as well as the RCMP, have lacked the support or desire to see this event continue. As it finally came to a tipping point on March 6, 2012, it became very clear that the members of the council have been looking for reasons to cancel the event rather than find solutions to promote and continue with it. In an email from Councillor Saindon on March 7th, he informed us that even though "(they) know this event draws an enormous crowd (that they) as a committee need to move forward with new events that will still draw people and make the weekend a success." We have always contended that we did not want to push an event on this town that was not desired. We now have to accept that it is not. Council has informed us that they do not have an adequate plan in place to address the concerns raised. This appears to be no more than an excuse, using the guise of inflated cost evaluations coupled with the refusal to make appropriate plans. We question as to why council has deferred this planning until only a few months prior to an event of such a large scale in the community? As far as we understand, the monetary value of the policing and management of the Rum Runner Days weekend was a large factor in council's decision. After reviewing the proposed 'budget,' which is full of inflated figures, it is no wonder that they decided to cancel the event. Rather than working with the current situation, they would prefer to go in a different direction and "focus on the parade, car show, Gazebo park events, free stage, potential concert, dinner and dance etc." We also find it unusual that the Municipal council based its decision on the recommendation of two individuals, the CAO and the Interim Manager, Enforcement Services, neither of whom even live in the community full time nor took the time to meet with our organization to discuss their concerns. However, as mentioned in our original statement following the announcement, we do not agree with Municipal council's decision, but we will abide by it as they have been elected to speak for the people of the Crowsnest Pass.
We do find it interesting that the municipality has recently found funds available to create several new positions and to spend enormous amounts of money on having bylaws created and revised, but when it came to spending money on public safety for an event that draws thousands to the area, the financial burden became too high. Interestingly enough, the Crowsnest Pass Promoter recently published an article regarding a new fireworks bylaw, in which Donna Tona is quoted as saying "If we continue with our fireworks show, Thunder in the Valley, we do need to follow the rules of the province [and] all the Acts.” We find this surprising as news to us, as the members of our organization are regulated by the Federal Government through the Explosives Regulatory Branch and use fireworks that are not subject to provincial acts. It brings into question how much research was actually done by her. Following that up, the article mentions that "Mayor Decoux questioned why Thunder in the Valley organizers haven’t brought the issue to the attention of the RCMP if it was against federal law." Quite honestly, we are embarrassed that the mayor's ignorance regarding what we have been doing for the past eighteen years. We did not realize that it was a volunteer organization's responsibility to ensure that the municipal council was doing its due diligence in matters of legality. Between the comments of Tona and Decoux in the article, our organization was quite offended, making us feel that we have been nothing but a group of common criminals for the last eighteen years. We would ask that before Mayor Decoux or Interim Manager, Enforcement Services speak publicly about our organization in the future that they would do some adequate research to avoid slandering our organization's reputation. Possibly in the future they may want to actually consult us directly on such matters.
Thunder in the