Having a fireworks bylaw that errs on the side of caution is better than having no safeguards at all, Red Deer council decided.
After a four months “free-for-all” — during which no municipal bylaw was place to govern the sale and use of fireworks within city limits — most Red Deer councillors gave initial approval Monday to regulations that would restrict the use of pyrotechnics to professionals.
If final approval is granted to these new rules, a permit will be required to discharge fireworks for Canada Day celebrations, stage shows or movie sets — and even the smaller consumer fireworks that some communities allow limited use of in backyards or fields.
Only sparklers, such as the kind that can be put on birthday cakes, were excepted and allowed under the bylaw.
Coun. Dianne Wyntjes was the only one to vote against it. She wanted to give more leeway to Red Deerians who want to set off small fireworks under safe conditions on special days of the year.
A survey done by the Canadian National Fireworks Association showed most Red Deer residents wanted to be allowed to purchase some small fireworks, added Wyntjes, who noted other municipalities, such as the City of Brampton, allow residents this kind of “enjoyment” under certain circumstances.
But other councillors felt it important to pass a protective fireworks bylaw as soon as possible — even if it means amending the rules in future.
Coun. Michael Dawe strongly urged his fellow councillors to do the responsible thing and get some kind of bylaw in place, noting Red Deer has been without one since mid-April. “I have seen injuries from the improper use of even smaller fireworks … for the community’s safety, we have to have some parameters …”
Alberta municipalities were left without a provincial fireworks bylaw when the province of Alberta chose to be regulated by the National Fire Code earlier this year. This change left municipalities having to draft their own rules for the sale and use of fireworks.
Coun. Vesna Higham had some issues with the bylaw as presented — she expressed concern that prohibiting sales will only create a black market for pyrotechnics. But she was willing to approve the bylaw and then possibly amend it later.
Red Deer Fire Chief Ken McMullen was relieved by the initial approval, saying Red Deer emergency workers need to have some local fireworks rules to work under.
“If you have no regulations, people can do whatever they want … I always come from the (perspective) of community safety.”