Business squabbles lead to Toronto Canada Day fireworks squabble

Toronto had to reschedule one Canada Day fireworks show and cancel another after a company it hired to run the displays at the last minute pulled out at the last minute due to a late bill payment. The withdrawal of services sparked an overnight struggle by city officials to find new vendors and save the celebrations.

Fireworks have been canceled at Milliken Park and have been moved to Stan Wadlow Park for Saturday, July 2. Fireworks in Ashbridges Bay Park, Mel Lastman Square and Downsview Park will continue as scheduled tonight at 10pm

The changes come after the city was announced Thursday by David Whysall International Fireworks Inc. was informed that it was withdrawing from the July 1 celebrations at Ashbridges Bay Park, Stan Wadlow Park and Milliken Park. That 11-hour move rocked plans for this year’s Canada Day fireworks, which is the first since the start of the pandemic.

The Star contacted the company and its owner David Whysall for comment, but heard nothing back at the time of publication.

City spokesman Brad Ross told the Star the company has been used multiple times, including last Victoria Day weekend’s fireworks in Ashbridges Bay. He said the company had warned the city it would not continue the Canada Day shows because it had not paid $31,000 for the Victoria Day event.

“We do our very best to pay our invoices within 30 days,” explains Ross. “As soon as that was brought to our attention, we made that payment. (Thurs) morning we transferred that money directly to him, the $31,000. But that’s still not reasonable to then arbitrarily cancel services. In effect, we have a contract and the seller has no right to arbitrarily cancel or terminate that contract, especially on 24 hours’ notice.

“We will hold that seller responsible for all costs we incur as a result of this breach of contract. We paid that bill. And he told us that he would not fulfill his contractual obligations to perform (Friday) evening fireworks.”

Ross said the originally planned fireworks display for the three parks was worth about $65,000. He did not know what the new supplier will charge.

On Thursday, city officials worked late into the night to find a replacement and contacted fireworks companies in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and in the US. Celebration Fireworks, based in Orono, Ontario, will have the Friday night show at Ashbridges Bay Park (1561 Lake Shore Blvd. E) and Saturday night show at Stan Wadlow Park (373 Cedarvale Ave). No supplier has been found for Milliken Park.

There are also fireworks on Friday nights at Mel Lastman Square (5100 Yonge St) and Downsview Park (70 Canuck Ave).

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