PENTICTON - With Halloween upon us this Saturday, many residents may be thinking of celebrating the evening with a fireworks display.
Unfortunately, depending on where you live, that might not be such a good idea, from both a legal and a safety point of view.
"In Penticton it’s against the bylaw to set off fireworks at any time,” RCMP media spokesman Rick Dellebuur says, adding people have been injured while setting off fireworks as well.
He says there is the potential for a fine for letting off fireworks within city limits. and with the dry conditions people need to be even more careful.
“We need to be careful out there, even though we’ve had rain, conditions are still dry, especially in the rural area.”
Dellebuur says even though many jurisdictions don’t allow fireworks to be set, they are still relatively easy to obtain. Permits are available in some cases, but only under certain conditions, he says.
“It’s one of those things, safety is the big concern with them. Our big concern is kids getting out with them, and just randomly firing them off. There’s always the potential for a fire to start, or for someone to get injured,” he says.
The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen implemented a restrictive bylaw in 1990 that does not even allow any fireworks, but the bylaw only pertains to Electoral Areas “D” and “E.” There is no bylaw in place for other rural areas in the regional district.
In Okanagan Falls, Kaleden, West Bench and Faulder, fines of up to $500 can be imposed for discharging fireworks.
Community Services Manager Mark Woods says there hasn’t been much public pressure or initiative on the part of regional directors to make changes to the bylaw. On special occasions such as Halloween, he notes, any infractions of the bylaw in the outlying areas will likely have to be dealt with by local fire departments, because police will likely already have their hands full.
Local fireworks bylaws don’t apply on the Penticton Indian Band, and in recent years fireworks have been sold from kiosks set up on band property. This year, a sea container has been set up by Brent Zvonarich on reserve land just south of the city.
Zvonarich has been selling fireworks for 12 years and he says a large number of his customers come from rural areas, and from all walks of life.
“It brings out the kid in everyone. Lots of older people are buying. They remember the fun they had with firecrackers when they were young,” he says.
Zvonarich says Natural Resources Canada banned firecrackers years ago. He says all his merchandise is approved for sale in Canada by the ministry, and adds products are regularly tested.
A number of his customers purchase noisy fireworks to scare wildlife away from gardens and vineyards and many also carry them into the bush to fend off bears.
“I’m disappointed,” he says of the increasing limits being put on fireworks use. “It gets a bad rap because of a few people who set them off in the wrong place, or shoot them at animals or each other. I realize the government wants to keep people safe, but to me, it’s like the marijuana issue. As long as there is a demand, fireworks will be around."
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