This Halloween could be one of Vancouver’s quietest, at least in terms of glittery sky-high explosions. That's because it's the first Halloween to be celebrated under the city's fireworks ban.
On Nov. 1, 2020 the City of Vancouver’s ban on fireworks came into effect. Amid concerns of an increase in the sale and ignition of illegal fireworks or pyrotechnic fans simply turning to the online market, the ban passed with a 7-3 vote at city council. Ultimately, comments regarding fireworks’ impact on wild and domestic animals, their propensity to set fire to private property, and the sounds of explosions being especially triggering for people with PTSD won out.
As a result, the last Halloween when Vancouverites could legally set off fireworks went out with a bang. Oct. 31, 2020, saw the Vancouver Fire Department respond to around 400 fire-related calls in the city within a 24-hour time span, 40 of which were confirmed fires.
This being the city’s first year with the ban in effect, it’s worth noting Vancouver now joins the majority of nearby municipalities in making such use of fireworks illegal. To date, Richmond, Delta, Surrey, Langley, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, and Abbotsford have all banned fireworks – due to excessive property damage, injuries, and associated costs.
North Vancouver city council recently heard from 11 residents on a proposed bylaw prohibiting the sale and use of consumer fireworks. Currently, the existing bylaw requires individuals to purchase a permit from the fire department, and fireworks can only be lit on private property between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Halloween night.
The North Shore’s proposed bylaw follows closely in the footsteps of Vancouver’s ban, allowing fireworks at specifically authorized events to be set up and set off by technicians certified under the Explosives Act.
Specifically, Vancouver’s bylaw names Chinese New Year, Diwali, Celebration of Light, and Canada Day as events where fireworks could still be let off in the city by those holding both municipal and federal certification.
To enforce the ban, hefty fines are used as deterrents. For any violations of the bylaw the fireworks ban is laid out in fines can range from $500 to $10,000.