ABOVE: Debating the merits of a fireworks ban
EDMONTON – Alberta is looking at banning consumer fireworks except in municipalities that are willing to take on the responsibility of regulating how they are used.
The concern is that consumer fireworks such as Roman candles and bottle rockets could cause wildfires or injure people who light them or watch them go off.
“Under the new legislation a person would no longer be able to use fireworks unless a municipality has a bylaw in place that allows them to,” Rosemary Waters, a spokeswoman for Alberta Municipal Affairs, said Thursday.
“In the absence of a bylaw, they would not be able to use fireworks in the community.”
Waters said a proposal is to be presented to cabinet this fall and is being developed after talks with fire chiefs and municipalities.
The policy would require people to buy permits to purchase or possess fireworks.
People would also have get a permit from the municipality where they want to set them off. This would help ensure that people don’t buy them in one community and then use them in another.
The policy change would require amendments to Alberta’s fire code.
Waters said it would not affect major fireworks displays such as on Canada Day or commercial events.
Some Alberta municipalities such as Calgary already ban consumer fireworks.
Others such as Grande Prairie are considering a ban and have drafted a proposed bylaw that is expected to be voted on later this year.
James Kostuck, the city’s fire marshall, said consumer fireworks are a threat to public safety and property and are a hassle to regulate.
“They are classified as low-hazard fireworks, but we all know that all fireworks can be quite dangerous,” he said.
The Alberta Fire Chiefs Association has been pushing for such a policy.
Brian Cornforth, president of the association, said the process has been delayed by the changing political situation in the provincial government.
He said it is important to have some sort of co-ordinated control over a product that can create large fires or explosions.
“We would like to see that fire code change be introduced sooner than later. It has been delayed for some time now,” said Cornforth, who is chief of the Lethbridge Fire Department.