Drive-by birthday celebrations for young children and older adults hitting landmark birthdays have become a prominent and uplifting experience for so many in Crofton since daily lives were changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But not all were on board with the concept and a noise complaint to the Municipality of North Cowichan prompted a visit from a bylaw officer on Monday that put the celebrations in jeopardy. But some of the main organizers reached a compromise to keep them going.
One of the contentious issues was the loud train horn on Cliff and Gina Fairbairn’s Finish Line Transport rig.
“We’re going to go ahead with it,” said Gina. “We’ll just avoid the horn. You may see some extra little things. I’ve encouraged more trucks to come in.”
The possible end of the celebrations created a furor in the community. The large majority of residents were in favour of keeping the mini parades intact, considering the duration of the noise – usually only within a five-minute period.
But to keep the peace and go on with the festivities, the Fairbairns. along with Mike and Joan Colwell and others, were willing to do just about anything.
“We decided we would finish the birthdays out till the end of June,” noted Gina. “Some of the kids are like three and four. They want the trucks.
“We’ve had a few negatives. We’ve avoided them and here we go. Some of the messages, kids are so excited. We’re not going to let them down. We’ll still do it. We’ll avoid the horns and maybe we’ll do something else. Let the cars honk all they want.”
There appears to be a sudden resurgence in the short parades after the complaint to bylaw enforcement came to light and many more vehicles seem poised to join the processions in the days ahead.
It’s a busy stretch of birthdays coming up from June 5-19. Gina said there’s a 60th birthday Friday, two birthdays Sunday, one Monday and one next Thursday.
The Fairbairns have gone out of their way to make birthdays special throughout the pandemic, especially for the younger kids. They’ve donated birthday T-shirts for the kids while the families of the adults pay for their own.
The Colwells of Cowichan Valley Ag Hauling Inc. are also accepting of changes to maintain the new tradition, rather than shutting down. They had initially thought of pulling out due to the risk of a fine if a second complaint was lodged.
“Let’s get these kids done,” stressed Joan. “We have the same kids that come out every night. It’s just really fun to watch. We’ll get it done. We can’t use our horns.”
She had a call in to the bylaw officer Tuesday to ask questions to ensure compliance with those who expressed concerns.
“That’s what this is about. It’s not about being right or any of that. We have to work for all of us, not just some of us.”
The Colwells’ involvement stems from wanting to put smiles on peoples’ faces.
“It’s just a hard time for everyone,” said Joan.
But the celebrations have mostly brought the community together and she’s pleased about that.
“The last thing we want to do is tear Crofton apart. Crofton is an amazing place to live.
“The kids are so fun. They stand on the side of the road and the kids are jumping up and down. It’s nice to know our town is still thriving.
“So let’s just get it done. If we have to be a little quieter, let’s be a little quieter.”
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring weighed in on the situation Monday. No tickets were issued and nothing was shut down, he indicated.
“People are simply being asked, to echo Dr. Bonnie Henry’s words, to ‘be kind’ in recognition that some folks aren’t all-in on the excessive noise.”