Council tables bylaw to outlaw fireworks

By Jessie Weisner
June 3, 2019 - 8:36pm

MEDICINE HAT, AB -- Medicine Hat City Council has voted to table a bylaw that would outlaw low hazard fireworks.

The topic inspired some strong opinions during council on Monday.

Councillor Samraj and Councillor Turnbull both said they wouldn’t support the motion.

Fireworks were illegal in Medicine Hat prior to changes to the National Fire Code, prompting the city to implement a bylaw if they want to keep fireworks out of the hands of Hatters.

“Low hazard fireworks were, in the old code, not permitted. So a municipality had to actually enact a bylaw to allow the sale and discharge of low hazard fireworks,” says Brian Stauth, Medicine Hat Fire Chief. “With the new 2019 code, those restrictions have been removed so now a municipality has to enact a bylaw to restrict the sale of low hazard fireworks.”

Enacting a bylaw to restrict the use of fireworks would allow rules to stay the same. Fireworks have been banned within city limits for years.

“It really is maintaining a status quo of whats been happening in the community for many many years,” says Stauth.

However, Councilor Samraj expressed concern about voting to outlaw something that’s never presented any issues.

During a Public Services Committee meeting on Monday, May 27, Stauth said low hazard fireworks have not started any fires in the community.

Prompting concern around outlawing them.

“There’s an old phrase, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” said Councillor Turner.

Mayor Ted Clugston has mixed feelings on the issue.

“Letting off fireworks is a really really fun thing to do and so we don’t really want to take away any freedom or for people just to have a good time,” says Clugston. “I don’t want to take away that fun but boy oh boy if we had a dry windy day and it caught and it went and we lost a subdivision or something like that, I’m not trying to fear monger, but you never know.”

He says setting off fireworks within the city could be fine in certain circumstances.

“Lets say it was legal to do in Medicine Hat, just go down to the park on a not very windy day after the underground sprinklers have been on and let them off at Kin Coulee or Echo Dale or something like that,” says Clugston. “You’re going to see us struggle with this for a little while.”

Events within the city, such as Canada Day, will still be able to have fireworks if they obtain a permit.

The item has been tabled until the next Public Services Committee meeting.

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