City of Powell River councillors have received a request for a complete ban on fireworks.
At the August 31 committee of the whole meeting, councillors reviewed correspondence from John Young, who stated he was writing to strongly encourage councillors to take the final step in banning the “public menace” of fireworks.
“I’m sure many city residents would join me in calling for you to ban fireworks on October 31, just as they are banned every other day of the year,” Young stated.
Councillor Rob Southcott said he wondered if staff would consider the request and return to the committee with an opinion about whether it’s a good idea.
Councillor Cindy Elliott said she was in favour of not burdening staff with that at this time.
“I think if council doesn’t think it’s a good idea, we shouldn’t be asking staff if it’s a good idea,” said Elliott.
“I’m not in favour of having a ban 365 days a year because I think there are events that people plan and people get all of the permits they need,” said Elliott. “It’s appropriate on some days, traditionally, to do fireworks. I understand the concern and perhaps we look at allowing fireworks in certain areas so that we don’t have them in residential streets and so-forth, or during fire seasons.”
Committee chair councillor CaroleAnn Leishman asked about the prospect of staff bringing back a report on the pros and cons of fireworks.
Chief administrative officer Russell Brewer said if councillors asked for staff’s opinion they’d get as many opinions as there are staff.
“We could bring back a report, as councillor Elliott pointed out, if there is direction from this committee about what kind of bylaw amendment it would want to consider, but just to have a report back with a number of opinions on the pros and cons would be challenging for staff, quite honestly,” said Brewer.
Councillor George Doubt said the question that the committee was talking about is to decide whether banning fireworks on October 31 and 365 days a year is a good idea.
“Frankly, I think that’s council’s decision to make,” said Doubt. “If council thinks it’s a good idea, then we should tell staff we think it’s a good idea and ask them to create a bylaw. If we don’t think it’s a good idea, we shouldn’t. Asking staff if it’s a good idea is just asking staff to do council’s job.”
Doubt said Young’s letter presents a reasonable argument because fireworks scares animals and might be disturbing to some people in the community.
“Right now, I don’t think it’s the most important thing for council to be working on, but that’s my opinion,” said Doubt.
Councillor Jim Palm said the call to ban fireworks is nothing new. He said for one night a year, to allow residents to enjoy fireworks, is a traditional family outing.
“I’m not in favour of sending this to staff,” said Palm. “They are taxed as it is. Let’s just receive this correspondence, and should we receive an avalanche of these, we’ll deal with it.”
Mayor Dave Formosa said he has a pet who hates fireworks, but he asked if council should start regulating how human beings live.
“People feel their rights are being taken away every which way but loose,” said Formosa. “Now, we start saying on Halloween, you can’t have fireworks. My dog doesn’t like it at all but I know my grandkids do. I’d hate to see it go away on Halloween.”
Formosa asked fire chief Terry Peters if Halloween night causes his firefighters a lot of grief.
Peters said there is a fireworks bylaw that in his opinion is very well written.
“If you’re to have anything outside of Halloween you have to have a permit, such as Blackberry Festival or Sea Fair,” said Peters. “It has to go through our office and insurance has to come with that. If it is Halloween, you’re not permitted to have fireworks outside of your own property and you can’t do it in public places.
“The kids on the streets with Roman candles are not permitted, it’s not legal and they can be up for prosecution on that. There’s fines that will come with that.”
Peters said it’s up to the RCMP to enforce the bylaw and the fire department does not go out on Halloween looking for fireworks.
The committee voted to receive Young’s letter.