To the disappointment of many North Vancouver District residents, the proposed fireworks ban was defeated by the Council’s 4 to 2 vote on January 22, 2024.
This vote followed a legislative process that included a Public Meeting where residents shared their views for and against fireworks. Only Councillor Betty Forbes joined me in supporting the ban. Councillor Catherine Pope was unavailable for this vote but has indicated her support for a fireworks ban. Hence, the council was effectively split 4 to 3.
This attempt to ban fireworks followed a similar effort in the previous council term. That Motion was also defeated by the council after considerable public input and debate. The harms caused by fireworks are well known. Fireworks are disturbing to many residents. Fireworks cause environmental harm, personal injuries, litter, damage to wildlife, and upset domestic animals.
The British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police, the RCMP, and the Association of Fire Chiefs of British Columbia all support the proposed ban. Our neighbours in the City of North Vancouver and the District of West Vancouver have banned fireworks. We are now an outlier among Local Governments in permitting this form of destructive entertainment.
As a Blueridge resident, I can attest that our community resembles a war zone on Halloween, with loud fireworks exploding late into the night. Our family has personally suffered from having our dog Sparky frightened and running off into the darkness due to these loud and persistent fireworks. Fortunately, Sparky came home without us spending a sleepless night worrying about his safety alone in the neighbourhood or the adjoining forest. Whatever “fun” fireworks may bring, that merriment seems to me and many others to be significantly outweighed by the harm caused to people, pets and the environment.
Our Council now has a dispute regarding which side represents the community’s majority view on this issue. After the vote on January 22, 2024, residents said they were disappointed and would like to see the ban in place. At the same time, some residents favour fireworks.
I will bring a Motion nearer to the end of this Council term to propose that the issue of banning fireworks be put to a District-wide referendum in the 2026 election. Through such a referendum, we can adequately gauge the will of our community. I say, let the majority view prevail.
Perhaps at the same time, putting a contentious item such as this as a referendum question will increase voter interest and voter turnout. With District voter turnout in the 2022 election at a mere 22.6%, my council colleagues will no doubt be pleased to support a ballot measure that will increase public interest in the 2026 election. Then, we can settle the issue of fireworks once and for all.
Jim Hanson is a District of North Vancouver councillor.