by Colin Smith
The circumstances under which fireworks might be sold in Morinville are still up in the air after town council opted for further discussion of proposed bylaw amendments, which many saw as too restrictive.
The amendments to the Fire Services Bylaw that would allow purchase and storage of low-hazard consumer fireworks within the town were given first reading by council at its January 25 meeting. Under the existing bylaw, the sale and discharge of fireworks are not permitted.
The amendments came back before Council on Tuesday with an administration recommendation that they be given second and perhaps third reading.
The amended bylaw would require a permit issued by the fire department to sell, buy and store fireworks within the town. Sales would be allowed on only 50 days of the year, the 10 days up to and including the New Year’s Day, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Heritage Day and Labour Day holidays. Setting off fireworks except by certified professionals continues to be banned.
Public presentations by Shaun Thompson of the Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce and Westwinds Shell owner Guy Meunier kicked off consideration of the matter at the meeting.
The chamber presentation raised the question of what retail vendors are to do with the fireworks they are unable to sell during the permitted time frames.
“The amendments to Morinville’s Fire Services Bylaw regarding fireworks, while they are what retail vendors are asking for, also create roadblocks for retail vendors who are wanting to sell, as well as anyone wanting to purchase low-hazard consumer fireworks,” stated Thompson.
Thompson said “quite a few” town businesses are interested in selling fireworks.
In his presentation, Meunier said he supports the idea of fireworks sales but opposes the idea of a restricted time frame for sales, because of potential storage issues.
“My company is ready to work with fire protective services and the Canadian National Fireworks Association to ensure all requirements for storage, display and sales of consumer fireworks are maintained,” he said. “We need to be on a level playing ground with the communities around us.”
The chamber also submitted copies of the fireworks bylaws of neighbouring municipalities, and Thompson stated that as far as he was aware Waterton Village was the only Alberta community that had a restricted time frame for fireworks sales.
In the administration presentation to council Town of Morinville fire prevention officer Fred Nash stated that 21 Alberta municipalities were engaged and researched in connection with the proposed fireworks bylaw, and the Canadian National Fireworks Association was also consulted.
He noted that a number of Alberta municipalities that passed less restrictive bylaws have changed them or are considering changes.
Under the amended bylaw, Morinville residents would be able to apply for a permit from the fire department online or through a retail vendor. Along with name and address, the application would require information about when and where the fireworks were to be set off.
Following the presentation council members had many questions, particularly about the efficacy of the bylaw amendments, and whether the permitting process would lead Morinville residents to buy fireworks where there is less restriction rather than from local businesses.
On a motion by Deputy Mayor Stephen Dafoe, council voted to refer the matter for further discussion to the Feb. 15 Committee of the Whole meeting.