Sooke district council is exploring ways of clarifying rules for fireworks permits and community events following a series of complaints last year.
Council is asking municipal staff to amend the fireworks regulation bylaw following a report from Fire Chief Ted Ruiter.
Fireworks are allowed only on Halloween (Oct. 31) between 5 and 10 p.m. Ten permits were issued by the district in 2021.
“People either don’t know the requirements for a permit or they’re just not interested in taking one out,” Ruiter told council recently.
Permits are $10 each, while the fine for possessing fireworks is $200.
According to a staff report, fireworks complaints ranged from noise, injured livestock, stress on family pets, as well as safety.
Councillors Tony St-Pierre and Ebony Logins questioned whether there was any reason to believe that stricter permitting would reduce illegal fireworks activity, with Logins and Coun. Jeff Bateman adding education is key to public awareness.
“Public education is one of the most important pieces of this issue. The amendment just makes the bylaw clearer,” Logins said.
Ruiter said there are concerns about property damage and the real threat of fire, especially with climate change.
Because of the ongoing threat of wildfires, the district has taken advantage of grant funding and implemented a FireSmart program. Sooke spends money on emergency management in order to be ready for major events.
“Allowing consumers to launch fireworks from their own property poses risks and can tie up numerous resources from a fire department response point of view,” Ruiter said. “Extreme weather events are becoming more prominent and only contribute to ever-increasing fire-related risks.”
Coun. Al Beddows said he only objected to more stringent controls on fireworks for community events, especially when an organization is planning a special celebration.
“If they’re on a large property, I don’t see why we would restrict them,” he said.
The fireworks regulation bylaw amendment will be presented to council this summer.