Niagara Falls is without a doubt one of the most popular tourist attractions in Canada. Its beauty and wonders, along with other attractions in the area, help boost the local economy with over $ 2 billion in revenue each year. However, the area is also home to a number of people, pets and wildlife, populations that Niagara Falls Tourism seems to overlook as it prioritizes visitors over locals.
From Sunday, the organization plans to take to the skies with fireworks, disturbing residents, terrorizing animals and polluting the environment, at 10pm every night until October 10th. While the event just has to be fun and entertaining for these all-important visitors, the calls to cancel the 144 days of fireworks are getting louder and louder.
In a recent report from City News, some residents of Niagara expressed concern about months of nightly fireworks, including a daycare and a teacher for children with special needs. Fireworks are known to cause fear and panic in some people, including newcomers from war-torn countries, people with autism spectrum disorders and other sensitivities, veterans and others with PTSD and newborns.
Animal advocates are also concerned. In a letter to Niagara Falls Tourism, advocate group PETA called for the event to be canceled. The group says fireworks often cause dogs to climb or dig themselves out of courtyards, “as they frantically try to escape the chaos, leading to an increase in the number of stray animals in shelters, putting more strain on society’s resources.”
On its website, the Toronto Humane Society describes fireworks as “the pet world’s F-word.” For pets, he says, “who have no idea what’s going on or what to expect – fireworks are sudden shocks of frightening volume. They can flip an animal out for hours after the show is over.
Explosions can also be harmful to wildlife. “Wild animals can become disoriented, confused and panicky,” says Lesley Fox, executive director of wildlife organization The Fur Bearers. “The loud growls and crackles disturb and change the animals’ behavior. Animals can escape from their caves or nests, causing them to run into traffic or fly into buildings. Fireworks can also separate families, as parents may have to leave their little ones to find safety.
Trapped domestic animals can also injure themselves when trying to escape from stables, barns or fences due to the panic caused by fireworks.
Though impressive, the fireworks end up exploding the trash can and causing even more damage by spitting harmful toxins into the air and scattering local ecosystems with pieces of metal and plastic. Imagine the waterfalls and the surrounding area filled with 144 days of fireworks waste. Is this really what our environment needs now?
Although we all long for fun after the two years we have had, it is not the right way to sacrifice vulnerable people, animals and ecosystems. “The bottom line,” Fox adds, “is that we need to rethink how we entertain ourselves and at what cost.”
There are other ways to light up the sky and entertain tourists without all that trauma, including popular drone displays and laser shows. Niagara Falls Tourism needs a new plan.