Essex says No to Permanent Fireworks Storage Facility

Essex Town Council said no to a new building to store fireworks, but gave the property owner time to figure out his next move.

Fireworks are being stored amongst homes and farmland in 26 shipping-containers on 6th Concession near the intersection with Johnson Rd., and they have been for years. Council voted 5-3 in favour of a motion by Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche to say no to a the new building, but give the property owner a three-years exemption to find a new location.

After a public meeting and some door knocking in Ward 3 it became clear many neighbours didn't know they were there and wanted the fireworks moved from the agricultural land, according to Ward 3 Councillor's Chris VanDer Doelen.

He voted against the motion — not because he wanted the fireworks to stay — because he wanted them removed immediately.

"I have to hand it to Deputy Mayor Meloche, that was a brilliant bit of arbitrage between the proponent and those of us who were opposed to it," he says. "Okay, it will go away one day, at least it's supposed to go away, but then again it was there for years and we didn't know about it. I guess we'll just have to wait and see."

VanDer Doelen tells AM800 News he feels for the property owners, but at the end of the day, they should have come to council before they began storing the fireworks on the land.

"We don't owe this guy anything, he's asking us to bend over backwards to fix his problem that he created himself and the town gets nothing out of this. It's all bad news for the town and there's nothing in it for us, so I was against it," added VanDer Doelen.

Fellow Ward 3 Councillor Steven Bjorkman voted in favour of Meloche's motion.

He wants the farm land used for its intended purpose, but also understands it won't be easy to just pick things up and move.

"Regardless of whether he went through the proper channels, the Town of Essex permitted that operation to happen so we have to give him a reasonable amount of time to find a good replacement property," says Bjorkman. "With what he's trying to store, he's probably going to have a little difficulty with that."

The property owner was asking for site plan approval for a 15,000-sq.ft. barn to store the fireworks.

Bjorkman tells AM800 News agreeing to the building after years of storing fireworks without proper zoning would have set a dangerous precedence for anyone else flying under the radar in Essex.