The City of Calgary is cancelling its massive Canada Day fireworks show and replacing it with a light show due to climate impacts. 

The change is a pilot program to address cultural, community, and environmental issues the city claims are experienced with traditional Canada Day fireworks, said Franca Gualtieri, city manager of arts and culture.

The city further claims that the replacement light show will be a “visually stunning display of lights and sounds that will be launched from the main stage at Fort Calgary during the headliner act.”

“Over the next year, we’ll engage with citizens, community groups and cultural groups to collect feedback to understand Calgarians’ preferences for Canada Day programming, which will help guide future decisions around Canada Day fireworks,” reads a city news release.

Calgary Ward 13 City Councilor Dan McLean noted on Twitter that the city is asking for feedback.

“Personally, I love ending Canada Day celebrations with fireworks,” he wrote. 

The city said there are cultural sensitivities related to ongoing efforts at truth and reconciliation with Canada’s First Nations. It says it believes the changes will mitigate disruptive traffic, noise, and overcrowding issues at city viewpoints. 

The city also says a light show will be friendlier for wildlife, like birds. 

The City of Edmonton came under fire this Christmas when it decided to replace its giant Christmas tree with a light show, also due to environmental impacts. 

“The City factored in the cost and the environmental implications of cutting down and transporting a mature natural forest tree and decided to explore other opportunities to bring vibrancy to Churchill Square that would complement the new Holiday Light Up event being planned by the Edmonton Downtown Business Association,” spokesperson Karen McDonnell told True North in Novemeber. 

Later, the city said Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi was subject to racist attacks over its decision not to have a tree. 

The city declined to elaborate on the nature of the attacks, but one letter to the editor published in the Edmonton Sun and later deleted said the association should have adopted Canada “as is, not with the dream of making it what you chose to leave, or perhaps you shouldn’t have left your home country.”

Another letter shamed the mayor for cancelling the tree. 

“Then to make matters even worse, he says that people who don’t agree with him are racist because they are upset,” the letter reads. “Once again, shame on you mayor.”


  • Rachel Emmanuel

    Rachel is a seasoned political reporter who’s covered government institutions from a variety of levels. A Carleton University journalism graduate, she was a multimedia reporter for three local Niagara newspapers. Her work has been published in the Toronto Star. Rachel was the inaugural recipient of the Political Matters internship, placing her at The Globe and Mail’s parliamentary bureau. She spent three years covering the federal government for iPolitics. Rachel is the Alberta correspondent for True North based in Edmonton.