Kitchener man charged after Waterloo city councillor hit by fireworks on Canada Day

Signs went up in Kitchener's Victoria Park last week to remind people fireworks are not permitted in the park. This was after fireworks were shot at people during the Victoria Day long weekend in the park. (Kate Bueckert/CBC - image credit)
Signs went up in Kitchener's Victoria Park last week to remind people fireworks are not permitted in the park. This was after fireworks were shot at people during the Victoria Day long weekend in the park. (Kate Bueckert/CBC - image credit)

A 37-year old Kitchener man has been charged after police say he intentionally shooting fireworks at people in Waterloo on Canada Day.

Police say around 10:30 p.m. on July 1, the man fired at two victims who were walking along Central Street.

Shortly after the assault, Ward 7 Waterloo Coun. Julie Wright took to social media and identified herself as one of the victims.

Wright shared the details with CBC News and explained that it happened while she was biking home with her family after watching the drone show in Waterloo Park.

She says they were passing by a school in the area when she saw a man in the trees lighting a firework.

"So I stopped to yell at the guy. He's on school property and there's lots of people passing through there," said Wright.

"I yelled at him and he just turned and fired the firecrackers right at me."

Ward 7 Waterloo Coun. Julie Wright said she didn't have any significant injuries, but her hair was singed after a man shot a firework at her on Canada Day.
Ward 7 Waterloo Coun. Julie Wright said she didn't have any significant injuries, but her hair was singed after a man shot a firework at her on Canada Day.

Ward 7 Waterloo Coun. Julie Wright said she didn't have any significant injuries, but her hair was singed after a man shot a firework at her on Canada Day. (Submitted: Julie Wright)

At the time, Wright says the man was roughly six feet away from her. She was hit in the face but not significantly injured.

"The residual feeling I have is that I'm just really mad about it. It's the sheer public safety risk of these events. It really got me riled up," she added.

Police say the man was charged with assault with a weapon and assault.

"I do think we need to have some broader conversations," said Wright. "I've already had outreach from councillors from the City of Kitchener, as well as the mayor, just to talk more broadly about why this is happening here and to better understand what has already happened in other communities."

That same evening, police were also called to Victoria Park for reports of a large group of youth setting off fireworks into crowds of people.

One incident involved a firework being set off under a baby stroller. Police say the baby was not physically harmed but a fight between two large groups followed as a result.

Wright says conversations with community partners need to happen immediately to figure out how to plan for events that include fireworks in the future.

"If you can buy them off the internet, then banning them is not actually going to get you where you need to go," she said.

In May 2023, Kitchener councillors voted to only permit fireworks on three holidays: Victoria Day, Canada Day and Diwali.

Wright attributes the multiple assaults to a lack of belonging.

"Just people looking for a lark and not feeling that sense of ownership of their community. You don't do stuff like that if you are feeling connected and responsible and obligated to your community," she said.