October 24, 2019

Personal Fireworks in Vancouver & Why They are So Last Century

silhouette of person holding fireworks

Photo by Emre Kuzu on Pexels.com

Kudos to City of Vancouver Councillor Pete Fry for bringing forward a motion banning personal fireworks in the city. This is after Councillor Fry’s  successful motion for 30 km/h speed regulations for neighbourhoods which was recently passed at the last Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference.

Vancouver does a double speak when the City talks about green goals and sustainability but still hosts and promotes fireworks sales in October and a  huge fireworks festival every summer.  I have written before about “big bang” fireworks events being  pretty last century, with emissions, noise and disturbance to wildlife in Stanley Park not to mention the impact on pets and people with noise sensitivities or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

That big summer fireworks festival used to be hosted by a tobacco company and now gets sponsored by automobile companies. It’s a great party for everyone. But there are alternatives~in Colorado, Arizona and California  dazzling drone light shows  are choreographed. The cost is in the $15,000 to $25,000 range, comparable to big bang fireworks, and loud music is played to establish the ambiance. The tradeoff, beside less disturbance to wildlife, is proactively preventing what could be the next grass or forest fire.

Councillor Fry’s motion does exempt fireworks displays for public events, and will require fire permits from the City to  “ignite, explode, set off or detonate display fireworks.”

As Justin McElroy with CBC writes Currently, Vancouver’s bylaw restricts the sale of fireworks to Oct. 25-31 every year. There are also additional regulations during that time, and anyone breaking the city’s rules can face a $500 fine.” 

The cities of Coquitlam, North Vancouver, Delta, Richmond, and Surrey have already banned fireworks. While Councillor Fry’s motion discusses the environmental impacts and noise, it also points to the damage. A front yard and street tree were set ablaze in Dunbar a few years back, with Fire having a slower response due to the street traffic. In 2015, a house in East Vancouver burned to the ground.

Vancouver Fire and Vancouver Police costs for fireworks related calls are annually just under $400,000. While fireworks vendors may not like any ban of their product, they are also not paying for the related costs for emergency services, or providing restitution to people, pets and wildlife impacted by their use.

Councillor Fry said it best-“This is one of those things that is probably better left in the past…There’s lots of business models that don’t stand the test of time, and this may well be one of them.”

You can read the Councillor’s motion here.

person holding fire cracker

Photo by Luke Barkhuizen on Pexels.com


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  1. Well, I’m not ready to give up Fireworks and I see they are an International hit with my many Asian friends. Also, it provides teaching moments in families to their young children on the Joys and Threats of real fire – yes, I am a retired science teacher so I think there are a lot to learn from live fireworks. Fireworks displays also brings communities together in backyards or local parks as they share their personal fireworks together eg Roman candles, volcanoes,etc. Why should correctly handled fireworks be treated as a crime, just because one or two foolish people do a stupid thing every few years?! I agree the noise can be jarring but that’s Halloween and makes this a special night. I have seen the drone lights at the PNE 10:15 pm Lights display…and they are nice. But I do like the smell and crackle of real fireworks. Lastly, I think this would be very difficult to enforce as so many people enjoy the fireworks the police would have a hard time trying to catch and charge folk.

    1. It’s not just Halloween night; this simulacrum of war; this multi billion industry.
      The pinheads that are amused by blowing up money start weeks before this night and continue weeks after; so stupid; so obnoxious; so disrespectful of our commons.
      Why not just go out and bang pot lids; look at something bright on your idiot phone while doing it; smell some burnt matches.
      Get your jollies that way. Leave the rest of us in peace.

      1. Old people would then just complain about the clamour of banging pots and seek to have that outlawed. And with their impeccable voting rates, they’d succeed. I suspect anti-noise legislation will peak between 2025 and 2035, then oddly trail off.

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