Fireworks shift away from Mary Tod Island

Annual Oak Bay Tea Party celebration will still go off with a bang from the shores of Cattle Point

The threat of fireworks set off a firestorm of concern for Mary Tod Islands. The annual Oak Bay Tea Party celebration will still go off with a bang, but from the shores of Cattle Point instead.

“It was brought to the attention of the Tea Party organizers that igniting the planned fireworks from Mary Tod Island could have significant negative effects on the ecosystem there,” said Coun. Hazel Braithwaite. “The Tea Party organizers quickly acted upon this concern and worked with the fire chief and Parks, Recreation and Culture staff to come up with a solution.”

Mary Tod Island is home to at least two endangered plant species that are protected under federal species-at-risk legislation – bear’s foot sanicle and the bearded owl clover. The island is also a habitat to birds like the marbled murrelet and the purple martin that are protected within the migratory bird sanctuary. Other birds are also nesting at this time, or might have non-flying young that would be affected.

“We don’t want to put the Island at risk or these species at risk so we looked at a change,” Braithwaite said.

After discussion, they shifted to the boat launch area of Cattle Point that offers least environmental impact, and from a fire prevention perspective best logistics for care and control of the fireworks display. Using a barge to light the pyrotechnics is cost prohibitive, she said.

“It’s great that we live in a community where we can all work together to come up with a solution when something like this happens,” Braithwate said.

Fireworks are set to start Saturday, June 3 at 10 p.m.

“This is the 55th anniversary of the Oak Bay Tea Party and we wanted to make it a bit special so that is why the fireworks were included this year,” said Braithwaite. “It also doesn’t hurt that it is Canada’s 150th anniversary, so we are just starting the celebrations off a bit early.”