Northeast Town changes burning bylaw to restrict fireworks during fire ban

Fireworks Haweater 2015

Makes exception for trained professionals

LITTLE CURRENT—Following the ‘brew ha-ha’ that was the lead-up to the Haweater Weekend Sunday night fireworks display, and prompted by a letter from a concerned taxpayer, the Northeast Town has changed its open burning bylaw to ban residents from setting off fireworks during a fire ban, with some stipulations.

“When the town has the Haweater fireworks display (always one of the best anywhere!) the fireworks are handled and set off by experienced people who do this every year and, I assume, have had some kind of training,” writes John Savage of Bay Estates. “They are set off from an island which has few trees or other flammable structures and they explode over water. Also, the town arranges for the fire department to be on hand in case there are any accidents. However, when the average person purchases fireworks from any number of outlets, they may be having a display for the very first time and may have very little idea about taking safety measures, both for personal safety and fire safety.”

Mr. Savage said it wasn’t his intention to be a “grumpy old man” out to spoil summer fun, but said he did hope council would consider changing the bylaw to consider fireworks under a fire ban.

“It was a little different during Haweater with a professional setting them off,” said CAO Dave Williamson. “It would seem ridiculous to not allow fireworks when the risks have been mitigated.”

Bylaw 2016-14 saw an addition with 2.11 which states “The use of fireworks is prohibited during a fire ban or fire restriction. The municipality may grant permission upon request under the conditions that a professionally licenced and insured person/company is responsible for the lighting of the fireworks. All authorizations will be under the guidance of the CAO and the fire chief. Anyone in violation of this section of the bylaw may be charged an amount of $1,000 per incident.”

In the case of Haweater Weekend, a social media firestorm was created when the innocuous question of ‘does anyone know if the Haweater fireworks are on?’ was posed to a Facebook group. The Little Current Lions Club, which hosts the fireworks dubbed ‘Thunder over the Channel,’ chose to steer clear of the online melee and proceed with the task at hand. For days in the lead-up to the event, fire crews volunteered their time to soak the area at Goat Island where the fireworks are let off each year by a licenced pyrotechnic from Northstar Fireworks, based out of Creemore, Ontario. The fireworks, the Lions said, went off without a hitch.

Council approved the bylaw changes as presented.