The Regional District of Nanaimo board wants staff members to come up with a report and bylaw recommendations regarding the restriction of the use and sale of fireworks in the region.
A motion, after a lengthy discussion, was passed by 10-9 vote at the board’s regular meeting on May 25.
Prior to the decision being reached, two individuals appeared before the board as a delegation, Alison Cuffley of the BC SPCA and Parksville resident Lynn Northwood. Both highlighted the negative impact fireworks have on farm animals, pet owners and wildlife. They urged the board to enact a ban on the sale and discharge of fireworks, similar to what other areas have done, including the City of Nanaimo, City of Parksville and Town of Qualicum Beach.
Some directors argued the issue is governed by the provincial government under the Fireworks Act and supersedes any bylaws. Under the act, the sale and use of fireworks is allowed from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1 but in the RDN it is enacted only in District 68 but not in District 69.
“There are many rural districts who have implemented a restriction on sale in line with the provincial law,” said Northwood. “Being a rural district is not a barrier to controlling the sale of fireworks.”
Electoral Area F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood) director Leanne Salter indicated the RDN has done a number of reports on fireworks and didn’t see the point of pursuing another report.
“If we’re going to do anything, it has to be at the provincial level,” said Salter. “We can’t do it at this level. We’re not as important as we think we are.”
Area B (Gabriola, DeCourcy, Mudge Islands) director Vanessa Craig argued that just because fireworks can’t be regulated everywhere doesn’t mean the RDN shouldn’t do it.
“Us taking that step would indicate that we think it’s an important issue,” said Craig.
Area E (Nanoose Bay) director Bob Rogers pointed out banning the sale in the electoral areas will be pointless when people can still access to them in other areas where they are legally able to sell fireworks.
Parksville mayor and director Ed Mayne and Nanaimo director Leonard Krog also indicated the RDN will be wasting time on a law that is not enforceable.
Krog said a “wise” RCMP officer once told him “a law that can’t be enforced is a bad law.”
Parksville director Adam Fras and RDN board chair Tyler Brown agreed the issue is not necessarily about enforcement but focusing more on reducing access to fireworks.
“I am aware of the reduction of fireworks usage that has resulted from increased obstacles and barriers that exist,” said Brown.
Northwood indicated there is an ongoing petition with close to 18,000 signatures urging the RDN to restrict the sale of fireworks.