The Cowichan Valley Regional District is looking at how to tighten up fireworks rules after numerous complaints came in around Halloween, 2020. (Citizen file)

Editorial: You can’t just set off fireworks whenever you want

People should think carefully about where and when to host fireworks displays

We love fireworks, too, but there have to be limits.

After numerous complaints around the time of Halloween this year — one of the most popular times of the year for fireworks — the Cowichan Valley Regional District is once again looking at ways they can curb an excess of people setting off fireworks illegally.

With one of the other most popular fireworks dates coming up — New Year’s Eve — it’s a timely discussion.

This has been a perennial problem in the Cowichan Valley for many years. Jurisdictions have brought in bylaws governing their use and sale, but the effect that had on cutting down on unauthorized use has started to wane.

Under the rules, people can plan and execute fireworks displays twice a year (Halloween and New Year’s), but they need to have a permit, or face fines. Unfortunately, we would guess that those that actually go to the trouble to get one are few and far between, and most people who buy and set off fireworks simply count on not getting caught.

Fireworks displays can be wonderful, even awe-inspiring. But if your neighbour is setting them off in their backyard right next to your fence with no warning they can be a nasty surprise. Especially if you have pets or livestock. And nobody wants to be kept up until 1 a.m. by intermittent loud bangs, with only the hope that your neighbour is more diligent with their safety precautions than they are with their courtesy.

Fireworks can be very upsetting for dogs, cats, horses and numerous other furred and feathered friends. Every year, people lose their dogs and cats to panic after they take off in terror at the noise of fireworks. Livestock can try to bolt, injuring themselves. And wild animals are even less used to our human noises. To them, fireworks must seem like they are standing next to lightning strikes, from which they would obviously try to flee.

All of which is to say that people should think carefully about where and when to host fireworks displays, and at the very least let neighbours know about their plans so they can try to mitigate the negative impacts on their pets and other animals.

Fireworks are a tradition at certain times of the year for many people. That doesn’t mean setting off fireworks whenever you feel like it is a right. If you want to preserve your tradition, being considerate and following the rules will go a long way.

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