Published On: Wed, Apr 3rd, 2024
World | By MDN

Updated London, Ont. fireworks bylaw expands permitted days to include Diwali and Lunar New Year – London

Updated London, Ont. fireworks bylaw expands permitted days to include Diwali and Lunar New Year – London
Updated London, Ont. fireworks bylaw expands permitted days to include Diwali and Lunar New Year – London

The contentious and lengthy debate around backyard fireworks seemingly came to a close at city hall Tuesday night after a majority of the council rubber-stamped a new fireworks bylaw.

Last August, the council voted to expand the number of days when backyard fireworks would be permitted to include Diwali and Lunar New Year.

The council’s community and protective services committee voted on March 18 not to add the holidays to a new bylaw, despite the vote from the council.

“My concern is when we make a Council Directive, whether you agree with it or you don’t agree with it, we should support the will of the council,” said Ward 8 Coun. Steve Lehman. “Communities have been planning based on that decision at the council, to try to change that, in my opinion, by excluding specific days that were added in is of concern.”

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Lehman, along with deputy mayor Shawn Lewis, submitted a letter to the council saying the committee vote was in direct opposition to the council’s will, and could even constitute a breach of the Code of Conduct.

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Ward 6 Coun. Sam Trosow and Ward 13 Coun. David Ferreira, who voted down the bylaw at committee along with Ward 1 Coun. Hadleigh McAlister, took issue with the letter, saying their voting has been consistent with how they feel they should be voting.

“I don’t feel that I have breached any code of conduct, I read through the letter, and I don’t feel like any of that applies to my vote on that committee,” Ferreira said.

“I am not here to rubber stamp anything, if I have the ability to vote, I will vote the way I feel is the appropriate way.”

Both councillors opposed the use of fireworks, citing safety concerns, climate impacts, and enforcement difficulties with the new bylaw.

“This council at some point is going to have to deal with the fact that no matter how many additional holidays you add to this bylaw, it’s not being effectively enforced and I’m not sure how we effectively enforce it,” said Trosow.

Several members of both the east Asian and Hindu community wrote into council, citing the cultural and religious importance of both holidays and asked council appeal the vote.

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Ward 7 Coun. Corrine Rahman brought up concerns around the language used by councillors when discussing the bylaw.

“When we engaged in these conversations…we have to acknowledge that sometimes, we struck a nerve,” Rahman said. “We have a commitment in our strategic plan to an anti-racism and anti-oppression framework that I don’t believe we’re using fully enough as council members, I will say I felt it myself when we were having this conversation.”

Councillors voted 13-3 to adopt the new bylaw, with Trosow, Ferreira, and Ward 9 Coun. Anna Hopkins opposed. McAlister was not present at the meeting.

Included in the bylaw is a licensing requirement for vendors at an annual fee of $800, a reduction in the number of days fireworks can be sold from seven to five, and new monetary penalties for non-compliance.

Staff will now determine the days when backyard fireworks would be allowed for both holidays and post them on the city website.

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