Skip to content

Chilliwack opts for drone light show instead of Canada Day fireworks

Drones ‘deliver same experience as fireworks but without the hazards associated with an open flame’
Chilliwack’s Canada Day celebrations will not include fireworks in 2024. This display was from Canada Day 2017. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Chilliwack is making the switch to an LED light show delivered by drones in lieu of fireworks for Canada Day.

“With the ongoing uncertainty of provincial fire bans, staff have been searching for alternatives that will deliver the same experience as fireworks but without the hazards associated with an open flame,” the staff report for the March 19 council meeting stated.

The drones are considered quieter, less polluting and safer overall than fireworks.

During the council discussion, Mayor Ken Popove asked staff if the cost for an LED light show with drones was comparable to fireworks, and was told the base cost was indeed comparable to the $16,000 budget for the fireworks.

Coun. Nicole Read praised the research by staff that turned up the alternative to fireworks since drought, and fire bans seem to be an ongoing trend during the summer in recent years.

Coun. Chris Kloot called the LED drone option a “creative solution,” since summers seem to feature extended periods of drought.

A short video from Vancouver-based Pixel Sky Animations played at city hall during the council meeting demonstrated how the drone-delivered light show could look.

In terms of why they made the decision to switch, the report offered some substantiation: “Drone light shows are thought to be more environmentally friendly with less noise, minimal light and air pollution, and more suitable for neurodivergent persons.”

Cities like Vancouver, Pitt Meadows and Langley have already made the switch, so drone shows are clearly “gaining traction” in the region.

Staff was asked if the drone shows are weather dependent in the same way fireworks are. The micro-drones are susceptible to high winds, but a light sprinkle of rain might be ok.

So in the wake of the council vote in favour, Canada Day will see synchronized, and choreographed groups of drones that fly into various aerial formations, powered with advanced software, GPS positioning and state of the art drones, which create awe­-inspiring displays.

Since “time is of the essence” with the event set for July 1, staff reached out to suppliers.

Pixel Sky Animations, of Vancouver, will be engaged, the report noted and funding is already set aside in the budget for fireworks, and those funds will be used for the drone light show.

READ MORE: Fireworks cancelled for Chilliwack in 2023

READ MORE: ‘‘It’s time for Chilliwack to put the fireworks down’ mayor says

Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering city hall, Indigenous, business, and climate change stories.
Read more