Robert’s column

Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: Private fireworks should be banned

I was amazed that no cars had exploded, no houses burned down

The Cowichan Valley Regional District seems to be all over the map as it considers what to do about the use of fireworks in the region.

Many members of the board, perhaps even a majority, want the CVRD to move towards a total ban on using fireworks within the district, mainly for health and safety reasons.

But an all-encompassing ban would come with many challenges, as the board is discovering.

Last month, the board denied a request for a permit from Brentwood College to have a fireworks display at its 50th annual Brentwood Regatta, that was held April 29 to May 1, largely because of the impacts it could have on people’s pets and wildlife that is nesting at this time of the year.

But just two weeks after that, the board decided to allow a fireworks display that was part of a movie production at a summer camp at Mesachie Lake during the first week of May.

Ian Morrison, director for Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls in which the movie is being produced, told the board that the display would be small and intended just for the movie, as well as the fact that the organizers had approached all the neighbours in the sparsely populated area to suggest that they keep their pets inside during the display.

But it appears to me that the main reason the majority of the board decided to allow the fireworks display was they were hesitant to turn down a request from a member of the movie industry, which is like a goose that lays golden eggs to many communities.

These productions are known to bring a lot of money to areas where they are filming and, understandably, most of the CVRD’s directors don’t want to interfere with their plans out of fear they’ll just choose to leave town and set up somewhere else.

But, at some point down the line, either this board or the next one after elections in October will have to make the decision on what to do about fireworks.

The community seems about evenly split on the issue, but I tend to agree with board chair and director for Cowichan Bay Lori Iannidinardo, who is a firm advocate of a complete ban on fireworks.

She voted against allowing fireworks on the movie set at the meeting and said that, regardless what the impacts are on economic development in the CVRD, she still remains totally against the use of fireworks in the CVRD for health and safety reasons, and for their impacts on many animals.

I’ve never really understood this passion many have for firing off their own fireworks.

Where I come from, there were always the ever-popular professional fireworks displays set off once or twice a year by local governments and other organizations, but I don’t recall many people buying them for personal use.

The dangers of that are obvious, as I experienced at a New Year’s Eve party I attended in Nanaimo many years ago.

The people at the party sat around drinking for hours before quite a number of them staggered outside and began firing off fireworks at midnight.

I was shocked to see a lot of the fireworks not going up into the sky, but accidentally shot horizontally along the street, with some going under cars and along the eaves of the surrounding houses.

At the end of it all, I was amazed that no cars had exploded, no houses burned down and none of the party goers had half their hands blown off from mishandling their fireworks.

It was apparent to me that booze and fireworks are not a good mix, and I wondered why the local authorities did little to put a lid on this dangerous activity.

To date, the City of Vancouver, Richmond, Delta, Surrey, Langley, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, and Abbotsford have all banned private fireworks due to excessive property damage, injuries, and associated costs.

It’s time the CVRD does the same.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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