City considers fireworks ban

City council will soon consider a bylaw change that would ban the public from lighting low hazard fireworks. File photo.

Local Journalism Initiative 

After multiple complaints last summer, the City of Prince Albert is looking at banning the lighting of low hazard fireworks in the city.

Mayor Greg Dionne brought up the issue several times in the last few months, saying people in his ward were complaining about the constant lighting of fireworks at night and asked for a change to the bylaw. 

“I don’t understand why someone has to shoot fireworks off in their backyard,” Dionne said during the Nov. 15 executive committee meeting. “In my neighbourhood – I live there and I want peaceful enjoyment. If my neighbour is shooting off fireworks, I’m not getting peaceful enjoyment.”

Fire department staff have been working on changes, and a draft of those proposed changes was brought to the meeting for council input. Fire Chief Kris Olsen said the changes have been a long time coming.

“Council heard loud and clear from a majority of the public that they wanted this,” Olsen said. “That prompted the changes to this bylaw in regards to the low hazard fireworks.

Infractions of the proposed changes would result in a $500 summary conviction fine, but the proposed bylaw also allows firefighters to issue fines, a move previously restricted to police or bylaw officers. 

If the wording remains as proposed, all firefighters would be appointed as bylaw officers and able to enforce both the Fire Services Bylaw and certain sections of the City’s traffic bylaw that relate to things like driving over hoses or parking in restricted zones. 

The wording change prohibits the lighting of fireworks or sky lanterns or variations of either. 

“The current bylaw of 2008 allows low hazard fireworks on private property – not public property – but private property. That’s what this new bylaw is proposing to change,” Olsen said. 

Many municipalities are concerned about the use of fireworks in their boundaries and more are moving to ban them, he said. Olsen said it’s a big change for Prince Albert, but a necessary one.

“It’s not unlike trends that are happening from city to city and the concerns that are coming up with low hazard fireworks being a nuisance all hours of the night,” Olsen said. 

Dionne said some cities only allow fireworks on Canada Day and New Year’s Day, both accepted national holidays where fireworks are the norm. 

Along with being a fire hazard, the use of fireworks is becoming a noise issue and Olsen’s review of other municipalities in western Canada found the same issue. 

“This has been one of the main drivers to change and for us to look at the bylaw. We did our homework and we looked at other municipalities in the west and its becoming a resounding theme where low hazard fireworks are a concern to municipalities,” he said.  

It is certainly what prompted Dionne to bring the issue forward. 

“The only reason it’s brought forward is because the general public has just been calling us. I’ve been woken up numerous times this summer with people shooting off fireworks,” he explained. “They’re shooting them off at 2:00 in the morning so people think they’re gunshots so they call police.” 

Businesses that sell fireworks will be required to have signage that explains that setting off the fireworks in the city is not allowed. 

They will also face increased scrutiny from the City making sure that the buyers are 18, as required by the current bylaw and in the proposed replacement. 

Once the new bylaw is reviewed and needed revisions are made, it will come back for all three required readings. Dionne is hopeful people take the message and obey the new rules. 

“I hope it works. If not, we do have the right to ban the sale of fireworks. Hopefully this works or we’ll have to get more aggressive,” he said. 

Also included in the proposed bylaw is the requirement for all residences and garages to have carbon monoxide detectors installed. 

“It augments and marries up with the provincial legislation that will be enacted July 1 of this coming year,” Olsen said.