The Town of The Blue Mountains (TBM) is looking at a variety of measures to regulate fireworks, following residential complaints sent to the town over the course of 2021.
In May, council directed staff to prepare a report exploring options for regulation, and a subsequent report was brought to the Nov. 23 committee of the whole meeting with five options for council to consider.
“Fireworks have come up a couple times over the past year in correspondence from residents, specifically over the last spring [and] summer, when fireworks are popular,” said Will Thomson, director of legal services for TBM.
“Staff have prepared a number of options … ranging from status quo to complete prohibition, and various options in between with respect to regulating fireworks,” he said.
The five options prepared by TBM staff are as follows:
The report recommended that council endorse option four, which would place TBM in line with the surrounding settlements of Collingwood, Clearview Township, and Meaford, all of whom limit firework usage to certain dates.
Council gravitated towards option four, as well, but raised a number of issues it might cause.
Councillor Peter Bordignon took issue with regulating the sale of fireworks.
“When we regulate when [fireworks] can and cannot be sold, that’s putting a major restriction on our businesses,” he said.
“There’s no way I could support that from a business point of view.”
Bordignon also stated that he would like to see fireworks regulations differ between residential and business settings, as a number of destinations in town might put on professional fireworks displays outside of allotted dates.
“Fireworks [are] a little more encompassing than just shooting them off in a backyard … I honestly think, especially when we have multiple world-class destinations within our town, we really have to separate residential and business.”
Thomson pointed out that option four could accommodate these types of exceptions.
“The intent is not to arrive at anything conclusive today, but to go back for a pretty robust consultation effort,” he said.
“Candidly, based on the feedback we get in our bylaws, the problematic fireworks are somebody in their backyard setting off fireworks on Tuesday night, it generally isn’t the professional firework shows. So there’s certainly room there, I think, to provide for those kinds of permissions and abilities.”
Mayor Alar Soever pointed out that residential fireworks have grown to be a problem, but he suggested that the town could issue permits for a limited number of exceptions.
“I agree, you know, fireworks have become a problem, and, in certain neighbourhoods, some people light them up every weekend, and it is a bit of a disturbance,” he said.
“But I would also like to give people the flexibility to apply for a noise bylaw variation, if it’s for other days, … and maybe limit it to one application per year.”
Councillor Andrea Matrosovs suggested allowing several-day windows for firework usage around permitted holidays.
“I’m definitely leaning towards option number four as well, but if we can perhaps consider an envelope of time around the special days, you know, being a four-generation family with so many work schedules involved, I know we can’t, for example, get together on the actual day, but that weekend,” she said.
The staff report pointed out that there are issues relating to enforcing fireworks policies, and Councillor Rob Sampson warned against setting enforcement measures the town might not be able to meet.
“I worry that we would provide a little bit of an expectation on enforcement that’s not going to be possible to deliver on,” he said.
“As you indicated in your report, by the time enforcement shows up, the event’s ended, and there’s literally no evidence to be used to determine who was involved in setting off the fireworks.”
Council moved for staff to schedule a public meeting to receive the public’s feedback on all five options, with a particular focus on residential and commercial concerns surrounding firework usage.
The meeting date will be announced soon.
Greg McGrath-Goudie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca