Highlands East reviews fireworks use
By Sue Tiffin
A fireworks bylaw established in June by Dysart et al results in some Koshlong Lake residents being restricted in their fireworks use, while others on the part of the lake located within Highlands East municipality are not, leaving some residents requesting that a fireworks bylaw be established in Highlands East, too.
Melissa Gordon and Peter Carruthers, of Koshlong Lake, wrote to Highlands East council in support of a similar fireworks bylaw set in place by Dysart et al municipality that would see both municipalities, “fully covered.”
“This year during our time up at Koshlong there have been a significant number of evenings where fireworks have been set off – once for 45 minutes and arguably from the noise grander than those set off by the lake association on appropriate dates for the full lake community,” reads their letter.
Acting fire chief Chris Baughman brought the issue to council on Sept. 10, looking for direction regarding a possible fireworks restriction, or a total ban, after receiving feedback from residents with environmental and noise concerns, and councillors who had attended lake association meetings.
Baughman said display fireworks are already strictly regulated by federal law, but consumer fireworks that can be purchased at stores are regulated by provincial law and can be set off by anyone over the age of 18.
He said in thinking about a bylaw, should fireworks be restricted to certain days, determining which holidays the public can use fireworks could be challenging.
“Not all of our residents celebrate the same holidays, which can make this a difficult situation,” he said.
Enforcing a fireworks bylaw can also be difficult, said Baughman.
“The enforcing part of this, I don’t believe Dysart has had it in place long enough to know if enforcement has been an issue. I do know that complaints don’t come in during the middle of the day, that’s not when fireworks are going off, or if they do the following day it becomes very hard to follow up because you can’t prove who was lighting them,” he said.
Councillor Suzanne Partridge said she has had many people contact her regarding the issue of fireworks, and had brought it to council numerous times over the years.
“I think this is something we need to look at,” she said. “I think we need to take a really hard look at this, enforcement will be horrendous, but we need to talk about it, a serious conversation.”
Baughman told council they would also need to consider the option of a restriction or ban, noting that if fireworks are damaging to the environment on regular weekends, they are damaging on long weekends as well.
“I would say a total ban unless it’s a community event,” said Partridge.
Councillor Cam McKenzie agreed enforcement would be difficult unless people would “own up” to setting the fireworks off.
“My thoughts have always been, don’t write bylaws you can’t enforce,” he said, regarding a total ban.
He also said small businesses that sell fireworks would have retail sales affected.
Chief administrative officer Shannon Hunter acknowledged it was likely that the public would want to have input on the matter. A draft bylaw will be brought back to council for discussion at a future meeting.