The Cowichan Valley Regional District will revisit its rules around fireworks after receiving complaints from the community after Halloween.
Cobble Hill director Mike Wilson told the board at its meeting on Nov. 25 that he’s been receiving significant feedback and complaints recently from residents about the noise from fireworks, and its impacts on people, as well as livestock and pets.
He said he had a discussion with Cowichan Tribes councillor Debra Toporowski about the possibility of approaching the manufacturers of fireworks to see if they would lower their explosive force, or make them more quiet, to deal with the community’s concerns.
“Maybe that can still have the same sparkles without the big bangs,” Wilson said.
“I’m hoping we can come up with some sort of agreement that would have less of an impact on humans and animals.”
Lori Iannidinardo, director for Cowichan Bay, said this is not the first time the issue has come before the board.
She said the fact that it has returned to the table was years in the making.
“We worked with the Cowichan Tribes on this issue before and it benefited both of us, and we still want to work with them on it,” Iannidinardo said
“The issue is detrimental not just to the health of domestic animals, but wild ones as well. There’s also the health impacts of the stuff that comes from the fireworks. We had this under control, but now it’s out of control again, and it’s good that we’re looking at this.”
Fireworks are only allowed with a permit twice a year, Halloween and New Year’s Eve, within the CVRD, unless special permission is granted.
Also, according the district’s bylaws, no one is allowed to sell fireworks within the district and it’s not permitted to discharge them within 500 metres of a livestock property.
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring told the board that the elephant in the room is the fact that while the CVRD can regulate the discharge and sale of fireworks within the district, it has no jurisdiction outside the CVRD’s boundaries.
He said that while Cowichan Tribes no longer sell fireworks on their lands, members of the Halalt First Nation continue to do so.
Siebring said even if the First Nation members stopped selling fireworks, then other people would step in to do it.
“We can all see the signs on the highway,” Siebring said.
“Short of finding ways to compensate them for their loss of revenue, and I’m not suggesting we do that, I really wonder how much difference tightening up our regulations is going to make. I’m not optimistic we’ll get the results we want. I wonder if the issue should be brought to a higher level [of government].”
Board Chairman Aaron Stone, who is also the mayor of Ladysmith, acknowledged that dealing with the issue faces challenges.
He said it’s easy to just go online and buy fireworks these days as well.
“We’re never going to be able to get rid of the sales of fireworks,” Stone said.
“One option is for us to take on a more advisory role on the issue, and tighten up sales and regulations where we can. I’m looking forward to the staff coming back with recommendations.”