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Fireworks restricted to three days per year in the City of Kitchener

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Ahead of the May long weekend, Kitchener is drastically cutting down the number of days fireworks can be set off in the city.

On Monday, council reduced the number of days fireworks are permitted to only on the day of Victoria Day, Canada Day and Diwali.

Previously, fireworks were permitted on the day before, day of and the day after each celebration – meaning the number of days fireworks can be set off has been cut down to three days from nine days.

This was also a push for Lunar New Year to be added to the list.

The Waterloo Region Chinese Canadian Association wrote a letter to council stating more than 23,000 people of chinses ethnicity live in Waterloo region – roughly 6 per cent of the population.

The Canadian National Fireworks Association (CNFA) supports that ask.

“We talked to council last night to see how we could include Lunar New Year as a fireworks permissible date,” Aleem Kanji, chief advocacy officer with CNFA said. “We have that allowed up the street in Waterloo, we saw a letter on behalf of 30 thousand Chinese folks in this community that have asked to include Lunar New Year.”

"We ask staff to conduct a revised report, and do some multi-stakeholder engagement," said Kanji. "I was pleased to hear at the beginning of the meeting that the Chinese community has written in and would love to see Lunar New Year added as a fireworks permissible date, given the diversity of the community."

Council did debate this option but settled to leave it out for now.

The main argument was that Lunar New Year stretched throughout a roughly two-week period, and in order to add it to the permitted days, one single day would need to be selected and approved.

The CNFA represents 3,000 members across the country, including 29 in the City of Kitchener. This includes vendors, exhibitors, importers and exporters.

Kanji said the CNFA wants to ensure that education and safety are really embedded in the city’s bylaw.

“We want to see our vendor certification and employee training program, a cornerstone of education and safety embedded into the city’s bylaw,” said Kanji.

In addition, fireworks now must be completed by 11 p.m.

DIFFICULT TO ENFORCE

City staff admit firework bylaws can be difficult to enforce.

"We know that fireworks, for the most part, dont last more than a few minutes, so often by the time we get there they are done, or sometimes people just dont really know where they're coming from," Gloria MacNeil, City of Kitchener director of bylaw.

Anyone caught setting off fireworks at restricted times could see a fineof upto $5,000.

MacNeil said a common compalint recieved comes after people light off fireworks is areas where they are not permitted, like parks or in the middle of the street.

Council also changed the way vendors are licenced to sell fireworks. Under the new rules, vendors will be required to obtain a fire safety permit instead of having a secondary licence.

The move comes after complaints about fireworks increased over the last few years.

In 2018, the city received 58 complaints, while in 2021 the city received 203 complaints, and 170 complaints in 2022.

The change of rules will be in place for Victoria Day in two weeks.

RETAILER SPEAKS OUT

Bam Bam Fireworks, a local retailer of pyrotechnics, said it is against the decision to move fireworks to three days a year.

“Fireworks are meant to be a source of fun and joy and we stand a real danger of losing that. It’s a slippery slope we’re seeing, with total bans in Mississauga and Brampton,” the retailer told CTV News.

“This is scary, fireworks as we know it may eventually become a thing of the past. With that being said, we at Bam Bam Fireworks will be at Bingemans to serve the public as long as we’re permitted.”

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