A recommendation from the staff in North Cowichan that would limit the setting off of fireworks to just the Halloween period in the municipality each year has been rejected by the committee of the whole.
Staff had proposed that the municipality adopt the province’s Fireworks Act, which would limit the use of fireworks to between Oct. 24 and Nov. 1, for a number of reasons, including enforcement challenges and the fact that the municipality has no provisions regarding the safe handling of fireworks.
The current bylaw, which was adopted close to 40 years ago, permits any person or organization to discharge fireworks within the municipality at any time as long as they obtain a permit, authorized by North Cowichan’s corporate officer, in advance.
But a number of council members said they had issues with staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to the Halloween season.
Coun. Christopher Justice pointed out that it’s a tradition in Maple Bay early each December for the annual Carol Ships sail past to take place, and it’s customary for people on shore to welcome the ships with fireworks.
“It’s a spectacular event which the boaters really appreciate and it makes the sail past more festive,” he said.
“I would hate to see it disallowed by this.”
Mayor Al Siebring said he thinks fireworks should be allowed at least on Halloween, New Year’s, Canada Day and the Carol Ships sail past.
He said if the Fireworks Act only allows fireworks during Halloween, the issue should be sent back to staff to include provisions to allow their use during other times as well in North Cowichan.
Coun. Tek Manhas said there used to be fireworks at the Sikh temple on Sherman Road on a day each August.
“Different organizations have their special days, so limiting the use of fireworks [to Halloween] can be problematic,” he said.
Tricia Mayea, North Cowichan’s deputy corporate officer, said council can choose to allow for fireworks to be displayed anytime an applicant wants, as long as permits are issued for their use and all provisions are met.
“Staff will be bringing forward a [proposed] bylaw and the committee members will be given the opportunity to take a closer look and make amendments at that time, so there will be further opportunities to tweak it,” she said.
The committee decided to instruct staff to draft a new bylaw that would allow any person or organization to discharge fireworks within the municipality as long as they obtain a permit from North Cowichan in advance.
But Mayea’s staff report states that staff intend to add a number of other provisions to its proposed bylaw before it is brought back to the committee.
They include establishing an application process, including fees, to discharge fireworks; restricting the discharge of fireworks within 500 metres of livestock; dictating conditions under which the fire chief may suspend or revoke a permit; and providing provisions for the safe handling of fireworks.