After watching the destruction that unfolded in Fort McMurray last month thanks to one of the country’s largest wildfires in history, local politicians are taking preventative action to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
One of those measures being contemplated is a province wide ban on the commercial sales of fireworks, according to Regional District of East Kootenay director Wendy Booth.
At the RDEK board meetings earlier this month, Booth put forward the request to request a meeting with the appropriate provincial minister about a potential ban at the Union of BC Municpalities convention in September this year. At this point, this request is nothing more than advocacy, starting at the grassroots, Booth said.
“We just had a fairly significant fire in Fort McMurray and we know we’re at risk for forest fires, no question about it,” she said during an interview last week. “We know we can’t control a lot of the lightning strikes that causes them however there are human causes forest fires that we can do what we can to try and prevent or minimize those impacts. That’s where it stems from.”
While still working out the logistics behind a potential ban, Booth said that the idea would be to continue to allow for controlled fireworks during events like Canada Day. Essentially, it would be a ban on backyard style fireworks situations in which people purchase fireworks and light them at their own leisure.
Currently, the sale of fireworks is illegal when a campfire ban is also in place. On July 4th, the Regional District will be imposing a campfire ban due to the dry conditions in hopes of avoiding a wildfire. Booth said that despite the ban’s limitations, people were generally accepting of it.
“We brought this in a couple of years ago and there was a little bit of pushback but really not much at all because the impact and the devastation that we can have from these forest fires is massive,” she said.
In 2014, Alberta considered a province-wide ban on fireworks but would have allowed cities to have a little more wiggle room. In Calgary, there’s a total ban on fireworks without a permit from the Calgary Fire Department. In Vancouver, individuals are banned using fireworks outside of a small window on July 4th from 9 a.m. to midnight. Any other use by individuals may be subject to fines starting at $250. B.C wouldn’t be the first province to propose a province-wide ban on fireworks.
Booth said that she received support from the rest of the RDEK board and local politicians and expects to receive similar support from local commercial stores where fireworks are sold. The next step will be contacting the appropriate minister to meet with at the UBCM later this year.
Still a grassroots idea, there is a long process before this can in fact become law, she said.
“I don’t know where it’s going to go, we’ll find out,” she said. “It’s early stages in the process and from a Regional District perspective, we’re not the decision maker on it, we can’t do it, what we want to do is lobby the provincial government to do it.”