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Comox Valley, Campbell River locals want fireworks ban

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Snap, crackle and pop may be sounds of celebration for some residents in and around the Comox Valley and Campbell River. Still, others are advocating for a ban on consumer fireworks locally.

MARS Wildlife Centre President Warren Warttig recently posted to Facebook, saying fireworks are known to “profoundly impact wild animals, especially birds.”

“So why do we keep doing this?” he asked.

“It’s 6 pm on Dec. 31. As I sit watching the pre-New Year’s Eve celebrations on TV, fireworks are prevalent in the background. We are entering the most vulnerable period for animals, and stressors from fireworks don’t help.”

The BC SPCA shares a similar outlook, setting up a federal petition to “protect animals from fireworks.” The petition closes on Feb. 25, 2022, and over 11,000 people have signed it so far.

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“Consumer fireworks can seem like harmless, fun, family entertainment, but they can terrify pets, farm animals and wildlife. They have seriously injured, and in tragic cases, killed people, and they pollute the environment and cause wildfires,” the SPCA said.

According to the Comox Valley Regional District, in Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland, locals must obtain a fireworks permit before setting off fireworks.

It says a fireworks permit costs $10, with the fine for exploding or setting off fireworks without a permit set at $500. As well, fireworks can only be sold between Oct. 24 and Nov. 1 in any given year.

Farther north, to set off fireworks within Campbell River, applications must be submitted at least two weeks before use. The cost per permit is $40.

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Meanwhile, on Nov. 1, 2020, Vancouver banned the general public’s sale and use of fireworks. Several other Metro Vancouver cities have followed suit.

Responding to Warttig’s post, one person wrote that “most cities have bylaws… but you have to make written bylaw complaints; otherwise, they will not take action or count the complaint.”

And it just so happens Campbell River’s Sylvia is doing just that. City council’s agenda for Jan. 10 includes her request to ban fireworks in residential areas.

In a Dec. 31, 2021 letter to council, she called it an issue that needs to be addressed: “As I write this to you, there are individuals lighting fireworks directly behind my house.”

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Sylvia continued, “It’s concerning to me that we don’t have laws prohibiting this; we have wildlife, horses, autistic children and many other specific reasons that you should prohibit this.”

“Canada day downtown, absolutely,” she added. “In any of our neighbourhoods, absolutely not.”

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