Flying lanterns banned over Wellington North

Well­ington North council is grounding flying lanterns – effective immediately.

Mount Forest Fire Chief Ron McEachern recently forwarded information from Public Education Matters, a notice about the potential hazard created by flying lanterns.

“The Office of the Fire Marshal has recently been made aware of the existence of a consumer product that poses a serious fire hazard,” information stated. “The Flying Lantern (also known as a sky lantern) is currently being sold by Canadian online distributors of fireworks products and at retail stores.

It further stated, “The product resembles a small paper hot air balloon, fuelled by an open flame. When released, the hot air produced by the fuel source can lift the lantern to extreme heights and allows it to drift for long distances until the fuel is depleted. These lanterns are often released in large numbers to generate an impressive visual effect.

But the lanters can pose dangers.

“The OMF has learned that, due to their uncontrolled and unpredictable flight path, they can land on trees, rooftops, or other combustible properties while still ignited. There have also been reports of lantern releases near airports causing lengthy flight delays. Concerns regarding the lanterns have re­sulted in this product being banned in certain parts of Asia.”

At Wellington North council, the decision to ground the lanterns was short and swift. Mayor Mike Broomhead said McEachern approached him recently and was very adamant about council passing a bylaw to ban flying lanterns.

Councillor John Matusinec said that even looking at an image of the product indicates how dangerous they are. “It’s like a plastic bag with an ignited fuel source in it..”

He said it might be great, “until it lands on someone’s roof or something. You can see how dangerous they really are.”

Council quickly moved to prohibit the sale and setting off of similar fireworks within the municipality.

Councillor Dan Yake asked if the municipality has the right to tell a retail operation what it can and cannot sell.

Chief Administrative Offi­cer Lori Heinbuch said under the Municipal Act, council can regulate the sale of fireworks in the municipality.