Calls to ban fireworks in London, Ont. increase

Dozens of complaints to London city hall last week over private fireworks displays are sparking debate over changing the city’s fireworks bylaw.

Some are even calling for the outright ban of fireworks, including Deanna Ronson. The Old South resident has launched a petition calling on city council to prohibit traditional fireworks and look at alternatives.

“I think it has a pretty profound impact on a lot of people. Particularly people with disorders like PTSD, autism, any type of sensory disorder, people with respiratory conditions.”

Ronson says she also wants to city to prohibit the sale of fireworks. She says last week, fireworks were set off in her neighbourhood every night. She’s dreading another summer of booms in the night, disrupting the neighbourhood peace, and scaring the daylights out of pets.

“Last year the same thing, Victoria day weekend, Canada Day weekend, and pretty much in my neighbourhood throughout the summer fireworks were being discharged.”

The city bylaw on use of fireworks allows fireworks just three nights out of the year, from dusk until 11 p.m. They include Victoria Day, Canada Day, and the closest Saturday to Canada Day.

The city says it received 64 complaints last week regarding private fireworks displays.

Coun. Josh Morgan says he fielded two or three dozen personally. He suspects the problem may be tied to the fact there have been no public fireworks displays because of the pandemic, but he says he is open to discussing changes.

“I know that folks have called for a ban. I’m not sure how that helps if we can’t get people to follow the current rules. Eliminating another three days of the year, I think we’re still going to have a challenge on the compliance side, which is why I support council reviewing the bylaw over the next year to see what we can do.”

Morgan says he wants staff to look into how other cities deal with rules around fireworks.

Currently, the sale of fireworks is only allowed the two weeks out of the year prior to the affected holidays. Michael Leff, who runs his father’s longtime London fireworks business, Bob’s Fireworks, points out that fireworks are already heavily regulated.

“It’s unfortunate a few individuals negatively impact such a broad spectrum because they are so popular with so many people every year. It’s a tradition among families, generation to generation. You know, my dad’s livelihood, really has been for 57 years.”

In the meantime, Ronson says she’s hoping for at least 1,000 signatures, and plans to present her petition to city hall later this month.