Regional District of Nanaimo to look at regulating fireworks

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After a lengthy discussion at its board meeting this week, the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) voted to move forward and look at options for restricting the sale and use of fireworks within electoral areas.

The board voted to have staff create a report outlining recommendations for restrictions, after hearing two delegations speak on the issue at its May 25 meeting.

“This is for the benefit of people and pets in our communities. The noise caused by fireworks is frightening and stressful for both domestic and wild animals,” said Alison Cuffley, government relations officer at the BC SPCA.

Lyn Northwood also provided a delegation and said she believes the majority of residents are against the use of fireworks in the RDN. She cited wildfire risk as a big concern, among others. She asked RDN directors to consider who the people using the fireworks are. 

“They are not people who are behaving responsibly — there is often alcohol involved. It’s irresponsible for a society to allow this to go on,” Northwood said.

Some directors pointed out the district’s limited ability to enforce a bylaw banning sale and/or discharge of fireworks. 

B.C. has a Provincial Fireworks Act, which must be enacted by municipalities to be effective. It says that “except between Oct. 24 and Nov. 1 in any year, a person must not sell, give, fire or set off fireworks.” RDN staff said the act applies to School District 68, but not School District 69 right now.

Director Leanne Salter said she does not believes a bylaw restricting sale would make a significant change because First Nations, under federal law, would still be able to sell fireworks. This means people in the RDN could still have access to them, even with a ban on sale.

Director Sheryl Armstrong said it would be challenging for police or bylaw officers to enforce a ban on the discharge of fireworks.

“Why are we proposing to make any type of bylaw that in unenforcible,” asked Director Ed Mayne. “If the police are going to go out there and make charges and stop it, then that’s one thing, but we all know that is not going to happen.”

The RDN will receive a staff report to look at options and potentially ask for bylaw recommendations.

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