Fireworks permits are distributed differently across Greater Victoria. (File photo)

Saanich leads the way with fireworks permits

Greater Victoria municipalities have varied approaches to fireworks as Halloween approaches

On the darkest and spookiest night of the year there’s also certain to be a lot of light and noise.

Fireworks are almost synonymous with Halloween, but separate municipalities have very different viewpoints on them, despite their close borders.

Victoria, Esquimalt and Oak Bay have outright banned fireworks unless they are for large cultural celebrations, but right across the street Saanich regularly distributes fireworks permits to residents.

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“We usually have a rush of permits later this week and early next, said Cpt. Jerry Tomljenvic at the Sannich Fire Department. “At this point we have issued 32 permits, but I expect that number to double.”

In previous years, Saanich has seen an average of 75-100 permits issued. Each applicant must take a mandatory fireworks safety course within three years of the application. The one hour course covers basic safety measures, and the permit can be attained immediately afterwards for $10. The next course will be Sunday, Oct 28.

In Langford a similar process is in place where a safety course must be completed within three years. So far, the City of Langford has issued six permits for family fireworks displays, though more are expected simply based on eligibility.

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“I notice there are a significant number of people who could attend at City Hall in the coming days to make an application should they wish to do so,” said Lorne Fletcher, manager of community safety and municipal enforcement. “I anticipate we will certainly see additional applications being made.”

Fletcher noted that there’s been a steady decline in permit applications over the years since Westshore has been holding family-oriented events at each of the three fire halls (Colwood, Langford and View Royal), which will include hot dogs, candy and hot chocolate. There will also be a professionally-organized fireworks show at the Bear Mountain Resort on Oct. 31, beginning at dusk.

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In Sooke, there have only been three permits issued so far, with an average of about a dozen granted per year. Sooke does not require applicants to take a safety course, and permits are $10.

In the Highlands only one permit is issued every year, usually to the same person on Halloween.

Despite the varied enthusiasm for fireworks across the district, none of the municipalities permit the sale of fireworks. This includes the Westshore communities where firework sales have been banned since 2006.

This begs the question of where the fireworks are coming from. Fletcher suggested that most people are getting theirs online, and staff at the Saanich Fire Department confirmed that most people purchase fireworks on the internet, including through Costco.

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