A Regional District of Nanaimo staff report confirms the difficulty in enforcing a ban and use of fireworks in electoral areas under its jurisdiction.
At the RDN board meeting on June 8, directors discussed the issue but could only receive for information the report outlining the legal framework governing fireworks use and regulation in the district.
The RDN’s manager of intergovernmental relations, Elizabeth Hughes, highlighted the complexity of implementing a ban on the sale and use of fireworks. The Fireworks Act has been enacted in District 68 but not in District 69.
The RDN, Hughes explained, can implement a bylaw to ban the sale of fireworks in Electoral Areas E (Nanoose Bay), F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood), G (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum, Englishman River), and H (Bowser, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay) through the creation of a service under the Local Government Act but Hughes pointed out that it does not give the RDN the ability to regulate discharge, a big concern in the rural areas.
Alternate Area F director Julian Fell said the latest fireworks report is nothing more than a rehash of the one presented to the RDN board in 2012.
“The conclusion of the board after some discussion and particularly in consultation with bylaw enforcement was that the RDN cannot stop the use of fireworks, which is logistically and essentially statutory impossible,” said Fell. “So this is just a repeat exercise from eight years ago and I suppose until or unless the province changes the statutes, it will be the same thing 10 years from now.”
City of Nanaimo director Sheryl Armstrong agreed with Fell, that the fireworks issue has been discussed by the RDN board on numerous occasions without ever achieving a viable solution.
“I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time,” said Armstrong. “There will be no enforcement and in order to do a charge, they have to be fined committing which is almost impossible to do to find them actually setting them off as you arrive. So, you can’t charge because it is a summary conviction offence.”
Armstrong added the only thing that will solve the problem is the province banning the sale.
Area H director Stuart McLean asked Hughes if the RDN can apply to have District 69 to be a designated rural area in the Fireworks Act.
“I’m not sure if the process is to apply for District 69 to be designated in the regulation pursuant to the Fireworks Act or if it’s actually to apply for an order in council to provide the power to that area to regulate the discharge of fireworks,” said Hughes. “It appears to be that you need to apply for an order-in-council.”
Hughes highlighted in her report that in 2018 the Cariboo Regional District pursued this line of action but concluded enforcement would be the biggest challenge due to staffing issues, especially in the evening when most of the fireworks are lit up.