Cranbrook city council voted to ban fireworks within municipal boundaries in the summer months due to wildfire concerns on Monday night.
Fireworks, which are a normally an entertainment feature of Canada Day celebrations, will be prohibited from April till the end of October. However, given the summer ban, council also voted to create and plan for a winter community event that would include and feature a fireworks display.
Canada Day celebrations will continue as they have in years past, whether planned and organized by the city or a community service group, however, there will be no fireworks display.
“I was against allowing fireworks in that timeframe because the last three years, we’ve had to cancel them once,” said Mayor Lee Pratt, “then it was an 11th hour decision whether we were going to have them and it’s always a safety concern.
“Lets face it, it’s getting to be a worse and worse fire season here now so I thought why are we even taking that chance.”
While residents may be upset about the summer fireworks ban, a winter community event or festival with fireworks will be safer and just as family-friendly, Pratt said.
“It makes sense; we discussed having winter fireworks, so you could have them at 7 p.m./8 p.m. when all the kids are awake and will enjoy them,” he continued.
Wayne Price, the Director of Fire and Emergency Services, pushed for the ban due to the wildfire risks that the region — and the entire province — has seen over the last few years.
Cranbrook’s Canada Day fireworks display was called off at the very last minute last year in what makes for a stressful decision for city staff and the public who are trying to plan their Canada Day celebrations.
“You have the contractor come in, he scopes the site out the week before, he spends the entire day setting up, and the anticipation’s there in the community — it’s an extremely hard decision,” Price said. “It’s a real let down for the community so it’s a real lose-lose when we go there.”
Price noted that staff looked at the seasonal trends over the last five years, which have seen warmer temperatures and worsening wildfire conditions.
The city has a ban on open burning during the same time frame, and adding a fireworks ban made sense, Price added.
Council also voted to send a letter to the Regional District of East Kootenay encouraging a ban on using fireworks in rural areas due to wildfire risks.