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District of North Vancouver Halloween fireworks permit revenue a whimper, not a bang

The average declared display value was $256.50. 
West Vancouver banned fireworks sales and displays effective Oct. 16, joining the City of Vancouver which enacted a ban in 2005.

District of North Vancouver (DNV) sold 198 permits for fireworks displays last Halloween. 

A list obtained under the freedom of information law shows that the total declared value under all permits issued was $50,786.76. 

But that translates into less than $1,000 in permit revenue for the coffers at district hall, which is holding a public hearing Tuesday night on whether to ban the sale and display of fireworks. 

Nearly a quarter of the total declared value was for 10 locations. One site on Handsworth Road declared that its display was worth $5,000. Five others were $1,500 each and four were $1,000. 

However, 37 of the permit holders declared the value of their displays at just $1 each. 

The average declared display value was $256.50. 

Under the DNV bylaw, anyone 19 years and older who paid $5 online for a permit was allowed to buy fireworks between Oct. 25 and 31 and to discharge them on specified private property, with permission of the landowner, between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Oct. 31. 

The DNV website includes a public database of building and trades permits that show precise addresses, but the District’s freedom of information office refused to disclose specific house numbers of fireworks discharge locations. 

B.C.’s public records law, however, contains a clause that expressly states it is not an invasion of a third party’s privacy to reveal details of a permit, not including personal information supplied in support of the application for the benefit.

Fireworks permits are not exclusive to DNV residents. The list shows permits were sold to residents of Vancouver (seven), Burnaby (five), West Vancouver (three) and Surrey (two), Coquitlam and Squamish (one each). 

The list also showed the weakness of the bylaw. One discharge location for a permit bought by a Vancouverite was omitted and another Vancouverite gave an address on West Cordova in downtown. A Surrey entry read “122 St.” and a West Vancouver permit holder said the detonation site was “Highview Place.” 

Kim Wasson, the FOI and records management analyst, said DNV Fire Services manages the automated permit-issuing process and the information is entered by applicants.

“If a permit applicant happens to make a typo, confuses their home address with the discharge address, or makes any other incomplete entry, that entry is not being corrected and the permit is still issued,” Wasson said.  

Coun. Jim Hanson is spearheading the proposal to ban fireworks sales and displays in DNV “due to the negative effects of fireworks on domestic and wild animals, to the environment and to people.”

A staff report cited air pollution, residential fires, risk of wildfires, and noise and injury to humans. Of 28 municipalities surveyed, DNV was among the minority of eight that still allowed consumer sales and discharge of fireworks. 

West Vancouver banned fireworks sales and displays effective Oct. 16, joining the City of Vancouver which enacted a ban in 2005. The staff report said the Squamish Nation banned sales on its territory and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation was considering regulation of sale and use of fireworks on its land.