With more fireworks being set off every year in Chilliwack, pushback is coming.
Fireworks-related fines are now five times higher than last year, and possession is now illegal, in addition to the sale and discharge of them being prohibited.
Police and City of Chilliwack have noted a “marked increase” in recent years in the illegal discharge of fireworks, particularly in parks and on public property.
It’s been illegal to sell or set off any fireworks within the city limits for years, but they are still available to buy in neighbouring communities.
Possession of fireworks within Chilliwack city limits was not prohibited until now. The bylaw requirement of catching someone in the act of discharging the fireworks led to challenges trying to enforce it, so this is the new strategy.
Bylaw amendments now make possession of fireworks in Chilliwack illegal, allowing seizure of prohibited fireworks, and increased fines from $100 to $500.
Other communities that have made possession prohibited in recent years include: Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey and Vancouver.
“While many regard…fireworks as a fun and harmless activity, fireworks that are illegally discharged by untrained individuals pose a potential public safety risk,” according to the staff report in the July 6 council agenda.
Many consider fireworks a nuisance as they are “loud and disruptive” to both humans and pets, the report noted. But they can also injure innocent bystanders, and damage properties and infrastructure. They cause injuries including burns, eye injuries, and cuts.
In 2016 there were just 30 fireworks complaints called in to Chilliwack RCMP and bylaw.
But just five years later, in 2020 there were a whopping 268 complaints about fireworks to RCMP, nine to Griffin Security and eight to bylaw/fire.
City bylaw enforcement officials were approached by local RCMP for help in managing the problem, according to the staff report.
Flaming sky lanterns are also being prohibited due to the fire hazard they cause.
Council made the changes July 6, approving all three readings of the fireworks regulation bylaw 2021, and bylaw notice enforcement bylaw amendments.
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