London, Ont. council to consider ban of fireworks

File photo. Fireworks. Christoph Schmidt/dpa via AP

The discussion around fireworks in London, Ont., returns next week to city hall where councillors will restart the debate around them with an option for banning them in backyards.

In a report before the Community and Protective Services (CAPS) committee next week, staff will present two options for councillors to consider for the future of fireworks in the city.

The first option would allow for consumer-grade (backyard) fireworks on three days: Victoria Day, Canada Day and Diwali. Sales would be permitted five days in advance of each holiday, and fines would be increased for breaking the rules.

The second option bans the sale and setting off of backyard fireworks in the city.

Both options would still allow higher-grade “display” fireworks to be set off with a permit obtained through the fire department, with community firework displays on Victoria Day, Canada Day, Diwali and New Year’s Eve.

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“I want to make sure when we bring this forward, we do it right,” Coun. Corrine Rahman tells Global News.

“I want to hear from the public as much as possible.”

Click to play video: 'Video appears to show fireworks being set off inside TTC bus'
Video appears to show fireworks being set off inside TTC bus

As part of the report, city staff suggest a public participation meeting be held on Aug. 15 to gauge further residents’ opinions beyond a survey completed last summer.

In that survey, residents indicated they were unfamiliar with the city’s fireworks bylaw and over half said fireworks are not enforced well.

Of the over 2,300 responses, 41 per cent of Londoners say they would support a complete ban on fireworks. Fifty per cent said no, and nine per cent said they were unsure.

While most do not support a complete ban, over 56 per cent say they support only allowing fireworks on pre-designated dates at public events.

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Victor Anber, a co-owner of K&H Distributing Fireworks, says banning fireworks would not be practical for municipal law enforcement officers.

“It’s ludicrous and somebody needs to think this out,” said Anber, who wrote a letter to the committee outlining his concerns with banning fireworks.

Instead, Anber says the focus should be education for residents purchasing backyard fireworks.

“There is such a thing as the ‘good neighbour’ flyer that our company and people that we supply hand out that tells people to be considerate of your neighbours.”

However, Deanna Ronson, one of the organizers for Londoners for Quiet Fireworks, says fireworks are too harmful not to consider an outright ban.

“I don’t believe that someone personal joy over an activity is enough justification for continuing to harm others,” Ronson tells Global News.

Ronson says traditional fireworks are not environmentally friendly and cause distress to people with nervous system disorders, PTSD and autism, as well as pets and wildlife.

Instead of continuing to use traditional fireworks, Ronson says she hopes the city bans backyard and display fireworks, transitioning to drones or light shows for public events like Canada Day.

The CAPS committee meeting gets underway at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.


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