Edmonton committee votes to overhaul fireworks bylaw

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Members of the city’s Community and Public Services Committee voted to overhaul Edmonton’s fireworks bylaw following recommendations from firefighters.

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The amendments would consolidate licensing requirements so that all shows are produced by a trained person or certified professional. They would also reduce fireworks permit fees from $147 to $100.

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Com. Tim Cartmell, Keren Tang, Michael Janz and Jo-Anne Wright all voted in favor of the changes. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi was absent at the time of the vote.

« Although there is a period of adjustment here…our various community partners will find their way through this new set of circumstances, » Coun said. Cartmel.

The updates will feed into upcoming changes to the City’s Public Places Bylaw, which will be submitted to councilors in the second or third quarter of next year.

Fireworks are already not allowed in Edmonton without a permit and most requests for use in private homes are not approved, with 83% of requests from non-professionals being denied in 2021, according to a city report .

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The same report describes some of the safety risks that fireworks can present.

“The use of unprofessional and uncertified fireworks compromises public safety and poses a risk of fire and injury to the person shooting the fireworks, as well as the environment and surrounding properties” , we read.

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Rob McAdam, deputy fire chief of public safety, told committee members that a fire last May was caused by fireworks and almost “where we could have lost a neighborhood.”

“It’s a highly flammable environment that we live in here in Edmonton. The potential is huge, but the proof is already there,” he said.

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McAdam added that there have been 21 confirmed cases of fireworks causing fires over a « three or four year period », but the true number was likely much higher due to enforcement limitations.

« Fireworks start fires in the city. »

Besides physical injuries, city reports note potential emotional trauma for people with PTSD or other mental health conditions, wildlife distress, and unintentional fires as other fireworks-related risks.

Cartmell admitted some would continue to flout the rules, but argued the proposed revisions made the city safer and could be enforced if necessary.

« Not everyone obeys the speed limit either, but when you’re caught breaking the speed limit, you get a ticket.

Opponents of the revisions include some business and industry advocates as well as community cultural groups that use fireworks in their celebrations.

At a previous committee meeting, they argued that meeting permit requirements could be too costly and complex.

Cartmell said he understands those concerns, but the city’s safety is paramount.

« I think it’s within their realm of ability to adapt to these new circumstances, » he said.

« We have to make sure we don’t set fire to a neighborhood, a ravine or a river valley during a particularly dry period. »

— with files by Lauren Boothby


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