St. John's councilor working to establish fireworks committee following New Year's displays

·2 min read

The City of St. John's is in the planning stages of the creation of a fireworks committee for 2021.

Councilor at Large and committee chair Sandy Hickman said the committee, which also includes Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O'Leary, Coun. Shawn Skinner and Coun. Deanne Stapleton, had a preliminary meeting in December and hopes to meet again in the coming days.

"It seemed to gain traction during December, I guess there had been a few [fireworks] here and there that went off," Hickman said Sunday.

"I think people were anticipating exactly what happens over the holiday season where there is an extensive use of personal fireworks."

While the committee is still in the early stages according to Hickman, its main purpose will be to examine the city's current firework regulations and decide if a more thorough review is needed.

"Just slowly and surely review the … current rules and regulations that are in place, and what past practice has been when there's complaints, or how [many] serious incidents there have been over the years," Hickman said.

"Determine if really there needs to be a full review of this, and something more stringent in place … or if we can just adjust and do more promotion and maybe make it a little more controlled."

Paula Gale/CBC
Paula Gale/CBC

Hickman said the time of year also played into the formation of a committee, as complaints about residential fireworks are often made to the city around the holidays.

Current regulations require a form to be filled out by the purchaser of fireworks documenting who is responsible and when they will be put off, but he said the system is not built for enforcement.

"People will complain on social media and maybe even emails to council or phone calls. But official complaints should have been to 911 for fire department response," he said.

Hickman also voiced personal concern over the use of fireworks in areas like downtown St. John's, which has faced fires over the years.

"I've been here a long time, and I have always felt civic fireworks are very important to St. John's, probably moreso than anywhere," he said.

"You have a large part of the built up area being, say pre-1900 and row houses. There can be danger downtown or even midtown."

Hickman said he hopes to bring the committee recommendation to council in the future, and said the group hopes to have regulation changes in place by the summer.

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