A clarification of the new fireworks bylaw was sparked during a Port Edward council meeting on Oct. 25, after the district received an application to set off fireworks on Halloween.
The fireworks bylaw, which was adopted on Jan. 11, 2022, states that anyone who wants to set off fireworks on public property must submit an application to the council at least 30 days before their planned event.
The application the council was deliberating during this past meeting was from Dave MacDonald, for a fireworks display at Taylor Lake on Oct. 31.
In a report to council, district staff made a recommendation not to approve the application after neither the fire chief nor the Ministry of Transportation area manager supported the proposed location.
District staff stated that the location was too close to the highway and could distract drivers and cause accidents. They did acknowledge that this location had been used for fireworks for many years.
Council made a motion to accept the recommendation and deny the application but some councillors wanted clarification on where residents can legally set off fireworks.
“On your own property you can and on municipal property you have to get permission, you have to pay a fee,” Polly Pereira, director of corporate administrative services and strategic projects, said.
The fee to set off fireworks on public property is $150.
Pereira further explained the changes to the bylaw came about last year after there was a Halloween firework event at the baseball field. The district was tasked with cleaning up a lot of garbage and debris afterwards.
Councillor James Brown added there were also safety concerns from the Halloween fireworks. He said people were setting them off right beside vehicles.
“That event last year could have cost somebody’s life or severely injured somebody,” he said.
The new bylaw lays out specific safety requirements. For example, the person who is going to set off the fireworks must plan the order of firing ahead of time, must clean up 30 minutes after the show, check the area for duds, and must return to check again the following morning. They also must ensure there is a water supply or fire extinguishers on hand.
There was some discussion among council members that groups who wanted to put on a show ran out of time this year to submit an application since it has to be put forward 30 days in advance.
“We may want to look at publicizing this early September next year for people to get a head start,” Mayor Knut Bjorndal said.
Kaitlyn Bailey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View