It’s not even Halloween yet but a Chilliwack senior and her dog are being “terrorized” by the disruption of nightly fireworks.
Chilliwack resident David Pollard said his 94-year-old mom, and her nervous little dog, have been unable to sleep once the booming begins on the north side of Chilliwack.
Pollard said he is holding City of Chilliwack and RCMP responsible for being unable to “fix” the problem. He fired off a letter of complaint on Oct. 24, 2021, after fireworks had been going off for 45 minutes at 1:30 a.m.
“There has been a moratorium on fireworks: illegal to sell, illegal to buy, illegal to process, illegal to set off, yet we have been subjected to fireworks in Townsend Park since the beginning of September,” Pollard wrote in an email.
It’s not a one-time thing.
“The disruption of peace that is continuing to occur over and over again is unacceptable,” Pollard added.
This is the first Halloween since possession of fireworks was made illegal in Chilliwack, with fines quadrupled from $100 to $500.
But they can still be readily found on sale at several roadside stands on neighbouring First Nations land where the city has no jurisdiction.
The mayor of Chilliwack had a message heading into Halloween weekend.
“It’s time for Chilliwack to put the fireworks down and find another way to celebrate the spooky season,” said Mayor Ken Popove. “There are so many ways to celebrate Halloween that don’t risk hurting people, upsetting pets, or causing fires.”
Police and City of Chilliwack officials acknowledged last year there’s been a “marked increase” in the discharge of fireworks, particularly in parks and on civic property.
In 2016, there were only 30 fireworks complaints called in to RCMP, but in 2020 there were more than 275 complaints, including those fielded by bylaw and security personnel.
Chilliwack RCMP spokesman Mike Rail said he completely understands the frustration.
“Weighing everything we understand how folks could be frustrated by fireworks going off at night when they’re trying to sleep, or in the summer when it’s dry,” Rail said. “It’s a safety concern.”
In anticipation of 2021 with the new fines in place for prohibited possession of fireworks, RCMP shifts are fully staffed for Halloween night, Sunday, Oct. 31, the officer said.
Rail said he urges anyone with complaints to call them in.
RCMP officials can “see patterns” in the reports, if members of the public are vigilant about calling in complaints. That lets them direct resources where they’re needed.
Whether or not fines are issued, or fireworks are seized, at the time, depends on each complaint situation and the number of calls at one time. Most of the time when police are dispatched, the suspects are long gone.
That said, reports have to be made by calling the RCMP non-emergency number.
“We’re serious about it, and we’ll get to those calls when we can,” Cpl. Rail said. “We are resourced properly for Sunday, and we anticipate it will be a busy night.”
So far only a few complaints about early illegal fireworks have started trickling in to city hall.
However during the entire month of October there were no illegal fireworks seized by city bylaw enforcement, or any fines issued.
“The Bylaw Department has received only two complaints of fireworks this month, however, Bylaw Officers have been proactively patrolling parks and historical hotspot areas regularly, and have not located any individuals discharging or in possession of fireworks,” City of Chilliwack communications director Jamie Leggatt said in an email.
Residents are ask to call Chilliwack Bylaw Enforcement at 604-793-2908 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to report fireworks incidents, while after hours they call the RCMP non-emergency line at 604-792-4611.
Do not call 911 unless there is an emergency, Rail underlined.
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