Trail’s fireworks fiasco highlights need to keep perspective

In light of Trail's recent plans to liven up the downtown core, the indecision over fireworks for Silver City Days seems puzzling.

The political world is full of slogans nowadays.  The 2011 federal election gave us “You have a Choice,” and “Rise up Canada.”

The US election produced the memorable “Yes We Can.” And, of course the federal Tories have a new one “Our way or the Highway,” (just kidding on that one).

Although our municipal election last fall failed to produce anything remotely as catchy as the infamous Energizer Bunny from councillor Gord Derosa’s campaigns a few years ago, there was a common refrain heard from candidates.

During forums and introductory speeches many candidates offered their vision of Trail.

The pitch was that change is good. That Trail’s downtown needed an injection of life and they had the ideas. To coin that dreadfully overused phrase, “They could think outside the box.”

Now I’m all for change but as anyone knows change for the sake of change isn’t always the best thing to do.

We have a downtown development plan on the horizon that will encompass the vision of making downtown more attractive and draw people into the city.

Sounds great and can’t wait to see it. But it’s that general train of thought towards enlivening Trail that made the Silver City Days fireworks fiasco so puzzling.

The city held back extra funding for the annual Trail showcase and in doing so put the iconic parade and fireworks in jeopardy of cancellation. There was even rumours that the entire weekend would be scrubbed because volunteers had become so frustrated.

The funding cut was in the neighborhood of $12,000; roughly what the city charges a business for four parking spots.

Of course that’s all water under the Old Bridge now that council has reconsidered its position and agreed to help fund the fireworks.

The fact that it came down to the final minute to decide begs the question, “What was the rationale in the first place?”

Word was council was waiting on some documentation. But was it really prudent to cause such chaos and uncertainty only weeks before the festival?

Was this posturing by council to the benefit of the citizens? Was this potential cancellation going to bring more people downtown? Was this change going to inject a little more life to Trail?

I’m no economics major but I do love a fair. Sure the rides are expensive but that comes with the package. The Silver City Days parade, the midway and the fireworks were all part of the one annual celebration I always take part in.

I spend money downtown. I line up on the street to watch the parade. And I gather with friends, some from out of town, to enjoy an evening out and cap it off with a fireworks display.

All I ever noticed when Silver City Days came around was how many more people were downtown and out and about around the city. Again, no need for a lesson in economics here but isn’t a hustling and bustling city the main goal of all this talk about saving our downtown region?

To me it’s a no-brainer. Put on something that will attract people to town.

That’s why there was a Halloween Night event and a Christmas event.

That’s why money is handed out to Communities in Bloom to help beautify our city and make it more appealing. That’s one of the reasons the city helps fund this weekend’s Bull-a-Rama.

The Silver City Days crew, all volunteers, puts together a fun weekend. The parade, fireworks, pageant, midway are all part of the festivities that bring life to downtown core.

So why cut off our nose to spite our face?

Saving money is an admirable goal of city council. But we’re not talking millions of dollars here. This isn’t some government entity preaching austerity. To use finances as an excuse to cut out the fireworks and threaten the parade just doesn’t make sense.

Any town would love to see the long line of people and cars that flow into town for the evening light show. The firefighters go to great lengths to give the audience and enjoyable and prolonged performance.

And when the final clap of thunder echoes into the distance, there’s rarely a disappointed spectator.

So lets add that up – happy citizens, plus an enjoyable evening, plus volunteers who help, plus visitors to the city. Then subtract a few thousand from the city coffers and, even with my rudimentary math skills, it still comes out heavily on the positive side in my calculations.

In the haste to reinvent things, sometimes the best parts are deemed expendable.

You can say all you want about the need to save money but there’s also room for a little enjoyment too.

So here’s a slogan for our local politicians to keep in mind, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”