by Colin Smith
A bylaw amendment intended to update Morinville’s fireworks regulations has been given first reading by Town Council, but not all members are happy with it.
The proposed amendment to the Fire Services Bylaw was brought forward by the administration to be considered by Council at its regular meeting Tuesday.
It followed a review of the bylaw conducted to ensure that the bylaw is compliant with the National Building Code, National Fire Code and municipal best practices in relation to fireworks and fireworks permits.
Under the amended bylaw, everyone requires a fireworks permit to buy purchase and store fireworks within the Town of Morinville.
Permits issued to retail customers would only permit the purchase and storage of low-hazard consumer fireworks.
Low-hazard consumer fireworks are defined in the amendment as “recreational fireworks such as small fountains, volcanoes, pinwheels, cakes, preloaded articles, sparklers, and Roman candles.” They can be purchased by anyone over 18.
Discharge of fireworks in Morinville continues to be banned, except when permits are granted for fireworks displays put on by certified professionals who possess a fireworks supervisory card.
Retail vendors who want to sell fireworks have to apply and obtain a permit from the Town of Morinville, while fireworks wholesalers and distributors need written permission from the fire chief or a designate to provide fireworks to retail vendors in the community.
Fireworks sales would only be allowed on 50 days of the year. These are the 10 days up to and including Victoria Day, the Sunday following the Canada Day holiday, the Heritage Day holiday, the Labour Day Holiday and New Year’s Day.
Distributing fireworks, as well as the sale of fireworks, without a permit or permission can result in a $500 fine.
The penalty for storing fireworks in an unsafe manner would go to $250, the same as for discharging fireworks without a permit.
Councillor Ray White asked about the limited time frame for fireworks sales. He was told by Fire Chief Barry Boddez that the town did not have the necessary resources to keep track of sales if they were allowed throughout the year.
First reading of the amendment passed by a vote of 4-2, with Councillors Jenn Anheliger, Rebecca Balanko, Maurice St. Denis, and Ray White in favour and Mayor Simon Boersma and Deputy Mayor Stephen Dafoe opposed. Councillor Scott Richardson was absent due to illness.
Boersma had questioned the extent of the fireworks sale and possession permit requirements.
“I feel that we are overreaching here,” he said.
“I opposed the bylaw amendment largely on the lack of clarity of wording,” Dafoe said following the meeting. “My read of the amendment with respect to some low-hazard items, and the answers I got seem at odds. I’ll be submitting some questions on that ahead of second reading.”