Firefighters in Vancouver want the city to ban fireworks on private property and only allow fireworks in designated public areas for five nights a year.
Representatives from Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services told city council Tuesday that issues of property damage and public safety warrant the tight restriction on consumer fireworks.
Vancouver fire chief John McKearney said the Halloween tradition of buying fireworks and setting them off in private yards is too dangerous to continue.
"Right now we have one night, Halloween night, and it is a significant problem on our resources," he said. "It's very hard to manage. The permit system that we've enacted is at best really only effective with responsible people."
Last Halloween, fire crews in Vancouver responded to a slew of fireworks-related calls and five major incidents. In the last six years, Vancouver Fire and Rescues Services says it has responded to as many as 56 fires on Halloween night.
"The general consensus among all fire chiefs is to ban them: No fireworks," McKearney said.
Consumer fireworks are already banned in North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Richmond, Delta, Surrey, Langley and New Westminster. But they are still allowed in Vancouver, West Vancouver, Port Moody and Burnaby.
If Vancouver city council accepts and adopts the proposal put forward by the fire chief, fireworks would only be allowed five days each year: Halloween, New Year's Eve, Lunar New Year, Diwali and Vaisakhi.
On those days, people would be forbidden from setting fireworks off on private property. Instead, they'd have to go to approved parks or public spaces.
Park board to propose fireworks sites
On Tuesday, city council gave the chief's proposal conditional approval, but referred the matter to the park board to recommend suitable public fireworks sites.
McKearney recommended about one park site per neighbourhood and Vancouver City Councillor Raymond Louie said the idea is to keep celebrations local.
"The intention is to find enough locations across our city — local community centre spots or parks — so they only need to walk a block or two to these locations, and they'll be able to set them off there," Louie said.
Council will now wait to hear back from the city's park board before giving final approval to the ban.
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