Regional district bans fireworks in Area E

The Fireworks/Firecracker Area E Regulation Bylaw passed final reading, making it illegal to sell or use fireworks in the area.

Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) directors, at their May 19 board meeting, also passed a related bylaw that includes fines for infractions: $300 for selling or distributing; $200 for possession and setting off; and $200 for discharging in contravention of a permit.

Area E Sicamous-Malakwa director Rhona Martin says the next step will be getting the message out.

“Our bylaw enforcement officer will spend some time doing communications,” said Martin, noting there is only one store that sells fireworks in Area E.

As for the floating Sea Store, which typically anchors in the Narrows, it will now be captured by either the Area E bylaw, or similar bylaws banning fireworks in electoral areas C (South Shuswap) and F (North Shuswap-Seymour Arm).

Although private use of fireworks is not permitted, there is allowance in the bylaw for community groups to apply for permits for special occasions like Canada Day.

The bylaw has caused some sparks for Martin, who says it has been a long process for her. She said rather than trying to regulate area by area, she thought a provincial approach would be more appropriate. Last year the CSRD sent a resolution to the Union of BC Municipalities urging the province to take over the regulation, education and enforcement of fireworks. The solicitor general replied it was best to leave it in the hands of local governments who knew best how to “meet  unique local needs.”

Sicamous Mayor Malcolm MacLeod commends Martin and the bylaw, saying it’s a positive step. But he too is of the opinion that the B.C. government needs to step in with provincial regulation.

“Hopefully, they’ll actually do something about it, rather than just have an excuse to do it through (the Ministry of Forests)…,” says MacLeod. “They have to do the right thing and hopefully they will.”

From the beginning, Martin said she didn’t want to put in a bylaw that was not enforceable. However, a budget of $19,000 is in place from Area E taxation that will go toward enforcement.

“There’s a security patrol connected to the parks program and they’ll be monitoring fireworks as well. There’s a couple of places where people party and they’ll monitor that.”

Martin says the patrol will be stopping regularly at the popular places such as Two Mile in Sicamous, and then swing over to the west side of Mara, and then over to Yard Creek.

Last year fireworks weren’t an issue because of the fire ban, notes Martin, and if the summer turns out as dry, it will be a non-issue this year as well.  In the meantime, she says getting the word out about the bylaw is key.

“Education is a big part of it.  People don’t think about the guy who has to go to work the next morning when they’re letting off fireworks at 3 a.m. It’s not something that’s nice in residential areas.”