‘Ottawa’ Fireworks Shot From Parliament Hill Possible, Study Says
Come Canada Day 2018, there could be fireworks on Parliament Hill – and not the usual political kind.
According to a feasibility study released to the Citizen Thursday by the Department of Canadian Heritage, two sites adjacent to the Hill’s front lawn are among seven potential new locations for the launch of Canada Day fireworks.
The fireworks have been fired into the night sky from Nepean Point for years, and will be again this year and in 2017.
But Nepean Point may be unavailable in 2018 because the National Capital Commission hopes to begin work on a major renewal of the 11.1-hectare promontory overlooking the Ottawa River.
If the work proceeds, it will force a relocation of the launch site until it’s finished – and possibly much longer.
The National Gallery of Canada has been pushing for the permanent relocation of the launch area because the fireworks cause strong vibrations that gallery director Marc Mayer has said “put both our windows and our collection at risk.”
Royal Pyrotechnie, one of Canada’s leading pyrotechnics firms, delivered the feasibility study in March. After evaluating and eliminating numerous potential sites, Royal concluded that seven launch areas were feasible and would offer good visibility to the majority of spectators.
They include barges in the Ottawa River behind Parliament Hill or near LeBreton Flats, Major’s Hill Park, the tip of Chaudière Island and a site near the Ottawa entrance to the Alexandra Bridge.
But perhaps the most intriguing options are the two on Parliament Hill, both of which would provide a major “wow effect” for spectators, Royal’s report says.
One option would see pyrotechnics launched from the back of the main Canada Day stage. The other would use six elevated platforms arrayed along the east and west sides of the front lawn.
In both cases, the lawn would remain open to members of the public. Some could be as little as 10 metres from the launch areas but the study says there would be no risk to safety.
The Hill fireworks would be smaller calibre and would ignite lower to the ground than those in other locations, rising to maximum heights between 15 and 100 metres. (By contrast, fireworks launched from the other sites could shoot as high as 360 metres, the report says.)
The Parliament Hill pyrotechnics would be visible only to spectators watching the Canada Day show on the Hill. But that’s not a reason to reject the idea, the report says, noting that large crowds flock to the Hill for the evening show and a pyrotechnics display would “add a dramatic effect” for Canadians watching on television.
Moreover, if the Hill pyrotechnics were ignited at the same time as fireworks were launched from one of the sites behind Parliament Hill, the result would be spectacular, the report suggests.
Royal – which won an $88,700 contract for this year’s Canada Day fireworks display – assessed the spectator experience for each of the potential launch sites. It concluded that Parliament Hill is the best viewing point overall for the five sites on or behind the Hill.
Major’s Hill Park, Jacques Cartier Park and the grounds of the Canadian Museum of History also scored well, but were rated lower because spectators there would be unable to see the proposed display on Parliament Hill.
In an email, Canadian Heritage spokesman Tim Warmington said no decision has yet been taken on the choice of a launch site.
“At this time, it is still not known if the plans for construction at Nepean Point are moving forward,” Warmington said. “If they do not, an alternative site may not be required for Canada Day 2018.”
If the fireworks are relocated, the department has not yet decided whether the move would be temporary or permanent, he added.