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Last blast? London, Ont. to consider backyard fireworks ban

The debate over firework displays is returning to city hall with two options for updating the fireworks by-law.

A staff report to council’s Community and Protective Services Committee (CAPS) recommends holding a public participation meeting later this summer to receive feedback on tightening backyard firework rules — or instituting an outright ban.

“This by-law hasn’t been updated since 2016, so we need something more progressive,” explained Deanna Ronson, who is part of a group behind an online petition to phase out fireworks in London.

Ronson said fireworks impact animals, the environment, and people with conditions including autism, PTSD and lung disease.

After examining firework by-laws in similar cities, Civic Administration suggests two options:

Option A

  • Backyard displays on three days (Canada Day, Victoria Day and Diwali)
  • Sales starting five days before holiday
  • Increased fines
  • Community firework events on Canada Day, Victoria Day, Diwali, New Year’s Eve and other days by permit

Option B

  • Backyard displays banned
  • Sale of fireworks prohibited
  • Increased fines
  • Community firework events on Canada Day, Victoria Day, Diwali, New Year’s Eve and other days by permit

Mike Leff of Bob’s Fireworks believes boredom during the COVID-19 pandemic led to a spike in firework sales — and sometimes irresponsible behaviour.

Based on this past Victoria Day, he said the rule breaking has subsided so a ban isn’t necessary.

“Fireworks were very popular during those times,” Leff told CTV News London. “Unfortunately, people were taking liberties, lighting them in locations and at times that weren’t appropriate.”

Fireworks are seen for sale in this undated file image. (File)

Leff said every customer receives a leaflet explaining the municipal by-law, “It is about enforcement and also education. I think a lot of people want to do them when they’re supposed to do them.”

An online survey conducted by city hall from June 1, 2022 to Sept. 30, 2022 received more than 2,338 responses.

It found that most respondents were unaware of the rules in the by-law, and that enforcement could be improved.

Would you support a complete ban on fireworks?

  • Yes – 41.3%
  • No – 50.1%
  • Not sure – 8.5%

Would you support a ban on fireworks other than displays on permitted dates at organized public events?

  • Yes – 56.6%
  • No – 36.6%
  • Not sure – 6.8%

“A great deal of our population suffers from the effects of fireworks,” Ronson said. “I think residents are finally starting to see the problem and want change.”

Leff said limiting the use of fireworks to just three holidays balances Ronson’s concerns with the joy that the activity provides to thousands of Londoners.

“I agree with the sentiment, and I think that’s why the lighting of fireworks is already illegal literally 99 per cent of the time,” he said.

Fines for violating the fireworks by-law range up to $5,000, repeat offences up to $10,000.

Penalties under the Provincial Offences Act range from $125 - $250, and a noise complaint fine is $175.

On Tuesday, the CAPS Committee will consider scheduling a public participation meeting for Aug. 15. Top Stories

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