There's a reason I ran for council in the past election. I really believed I could make changes in the way the town was perceived by its populace. I did not get elected, but that doesn't mean I have given up on that goal.
Today an announcement was made on Facebook – through a private social media account – that numerous events have been cancelled, due to our old nemesis COVID-19. While I do understand that events can be subject to change, something about this time really irks me.
To begin with, why was this post made via a private citizens account, instead of through the page of Port aux Basques Council News? One would expect that a town council page would be the more appropriate place to have made such an announcement. The post was made in a popular group page, which in and of itself is not a bad thing, but if someone (like me) wants Council news and announcements, this is not the first page we ought to be looking.
Secondly and in my opinion much more importantly, why are fireworks cancelled? To put it quite plainly, this doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense to me.
Originally slated to be launched on Dec. 23rd (Tibbs eve), this event promised to be something that everyone could enjoy. You could stay in your car, watch from your balcony, be outside on the waterfront. The risk associated with being outside is not significantly increased by the number of people looking at fireworks. There are currently no restrictions on outdoor events, especially an event that doesn't require any kind of proximity. But Council has made the decision that we are not to get 15 or 30 minutes of enjoyment.
I went over to the town office and spoke with Town Manager Leon MacIsaac to lobby for the fireworks to proceed as scheduled. His response was that they were erring on the side of caution. Meanwhile, the Bruce II schedule that dropped on its Facebook page shortly thereafter show that regular events are, in fact, proceeding as scheduled. It's only the Christmas festivities and the fireworks that are cancelled.
I fully appreciate the risks associated with indoor gatherings and events. The skating events, the gym and so on are cancelled, and it makes sense that they should be. The Boxing Day dance is also cancelled, and I agree with the logic behind that as well. But the fireworks, being an outdoor event really boggles me.
The Town of Stephenville has a major event happening on Wednesday the 22nd. Called Christmas Adventure, it will encompass most of Main Street for two or three hours. Given the size of the event, the Town reached out to regional and provincial health authorities, and Municipalities NL , to make sure that this celebration is not in violation of any mandates, restrictions or policies. They were assured that they are fine and safe to proceed with this festival, as long as they ask people to practice the safety protocols we all know so well by now.
I cannot help but wonder if our town council did the same before rushing to cancel the fireworks. Did they perform any sort of due diligence or even so much as discuss it in a private council meeting first? The method of communicating the cancellation of highly anticipated fireworks has done nothing to suggest there was much forethought put into their decision.
Perhaps there is more than one Grinch in Port aux Basques.