The Canadian National Fireworks Association official advocates education as a better solution than banning the sale and use of fireworks.
Perry Logan, executive director of the CNFA, said he understands the concerns raised by residents in the Regional District of Nanaimo over potential reckless discharge of fireworks having a negative impact on pets and farm animals. But he’s not in favour of a ban.
“Banning doesn’t work,” said Logan. “They’re banned in Nanaimo. How is that working?”
Logan, who indicated he grew up in Nanaimo, said people can simply access fireworks by purchasing them online or in communities where they’re allowed to be sold.
To help address this situation, the CNFA, which respresents fireworks manufacturers, distributors and retailers across the country, introduced an action plan similar to the SmartServe program in the alcohol industry, that it first implemented in Ontario and is now bringing to British Columbia. It would require educating retailers like the vendors and their staff to be properly trained on all federal and provincial regulations as well as municipal bylaws.
The CNFA has also been promoting “Be a Good Neighbour” program, a family fire safety pamphlet that promotes enjoyable use of fireworks safely while respecting neighbours, the environment and animals.
The RDN board recently reviewed a report presented by staff last month and it highlihted the difficulty in enforcing a ban on discharge of fireworks in electoral areas under its jurisdiction. Logan said “it’s impossible.”
“Toronto has 1,500 parks and 250 bylaw officers who are not out all at the same time,” said Logan. “We don’t get any satisfaction when bad things happen. We don’t like that.”
Logan said he has sent letters to the RDN board of directors and is still waiting for a reply. He explained educating retailers and the public has been an effective approach.
“It is working,” said Logan. “Our recommendation to the RDN will be two things. Number one, that they require anyone that sells fireworks in a retail location must be certified through the CNFA education program, which is based on federal regulations, codes and municipal bylaws.
“Step two is the ‘Be A Good Neighbour’ program. It’s already a requirement from the safety side that’s a federal regulation. I am not sure they’re aware of that. So we make them aware of the tools that they already have.”
Logan stressed they want to reach out to British Columbians and to the RDN and get the message out sooner before big Halloween celebrations, when fireworks are lit indiscriminately.
“We have shown that we are committed,” said Logan. “We just spent a bunch of money in Toronto with billboards and radio to get it out there. ‘Guys be a good neighbour. Be smart about this.’ And it did minimize the use. We absolutely cannot be 100 per cent because it’s impossible. But if we can stop one, two or three people we know we can stop a lot more.”