Fireworks will be banned in Port Alberni if city council passes a new fireworks bylaw proposed by the fire department.
The new bylaw would make possession, storage and use of commercial fireworks such as Roman candles, pin wheels and firework showers and fountains, illegal and punishable with fines ranging from $100 to $10,000 or jail time.
Fire chief Timothy Pley told council on Monday that the proposed bylaw brings Port Alberni in line with other communities that have enacted similar bans.
“From an urban setting perspective, there is nowhere in the city where you can safely set off fireworks without endangering properties,” Pley said.
Fire prevention officer Randy Thoen explained to council that insurance companies have been changing their policies, with many no longer covering damage due to fireworks. He also said special events such as the Salmon Festival would be exempt from the ban, but would need to apply to city council and no fee would be charged.
The use of firecrackers have been allowed for ethnic events with permits issued by the fire department. That will slightly change under the new proposal, with city council issuing the permits instead.
City council decided to table the proposed bylaw until they got information regarding the regional district’s fireworks bylaw. However, at least one city councillor was opposed to the proposed new ban.
“I just got a problem with it, the concept of prohibiting, prohibiting, prohibiting,” said Coun. Jack McLeman.
“We are clamping down on our citizens with everything.”
McLeman spoke about setting off fireworks when he was a kid and compared those fireworks to ones he last purchased, which he felt were weaker.
Coun. Hira Chopra asked how strict the enforcement would be under the new bylaw.
“If they do not cooperate, than we are proposing a fine system,” Thoen said, explaining the department would take the fireworks away and educate a person about the ban; only going the extra step if a violator is belligerent.
“If this bylaw is adopted, it does empower the RCMP, certain fire department personnel and bylaw officers.”