MINTO – Town council has authorized staff to implement a public education campaign aimed at encouraging safe and considerate use of fireworks in the municipality.
Councillor Ron Elliott raised the issue on July 13, pointing out private fireworks displays are becoming increasingly common and not always in connection with specific holidays.
“It’s not just Canada Day, it’s not just May 24, it’s whenever they feel they want to set off some fireworks,” said Elliott.
“Quite often they’re done in the park here (Palmerston Lions Heritage Park).”
Elliott said he received a call earlier that day from a concerned resident about the matter.
“It scares the heck out of dogs and animals,” he pointed out.
“It’s just spontaneous and it can be anywhere, anytime … I wonder if there’s any way we can create a bylaw that we can at least fine somebody, charge somebody?”
CAO Derrick Thomson replied, “Fireworks bylaws are common in mostly highly-dense municipalities. They range from indicating what particular holiday they will allow to what locations they will allow.
“But my caution is, like everything else … creating a bylaw and trying to enforce it in a wide geographic community such as Minto is difficult.”
Elliott suggested large fines might be a deterrent once word got around about some people receiving them.
“The province will set the fines and historically … you don’t usually see big fines,” noted Thomson.
“Is it possible to do? Yes. Is it successful? I’m not so sure. And then we’ve got a real enforcement problem.”
Elliott suggested the town embark on a public relations campaign to deter people from overuse of fireworks.
“I think certainly that’s a fabulous idea,” said Thomson.
“Let me go back and work with our social media folks and see if we can come up with some type of campaign that, before our holiday weekends, asks people to be respectful and be considerate of others. I think that may be a first very good step.”
Mayor George Bridge said, “A little bit of it is, when everybody was stuck with COVID … they did more in their backyards than they ever did before, because they didn’t have big fireworks displays.”
The mayor also noted, “some of these fireworks are getting to be very large.
“You can buy what they call a carton … you light them off and then they go for 20 minutes, you light one match on it, And then there’s other ones, these big cakes, that are very dangerous.
“So I think this is something that provincial governments have to look at too.”
Minto Fire deputy chief Callise Loos advised council she and bylaw enforcement officer Cam Forbes have discussed the question of fireworks in town.
She noted some municipalities require permits for fireworks displays and have regulations limiting the types of fireworks that can be used.
“But right now, without a bylaw, it’s up to the OPP to enforce and all we can do is educate on the dangers of fireworks,” said Loos.
Council directed the CAO to work with other staff to create a public education campaign on fireworks.