As we head closer to the Summer season, I'm sure people are actively planning outdoor celebrations and parties. For anyone whose celebrations may include fireworks, I am asking you to be cognizant of the potential impact on your neighbours.
As many longtime readers of this column will likely know, my family are the proud owners of three rescue cats: Marco, Kita and Lily. These three spent the earliest portion of their lives just trying to stay alive, outdoors in the winter season, before being rescued. While they have settled into the environment at our home, fireworks shows do give them a tremendous amount of stress and fear. As soon as the first pop goes off in our neighbourhood, they scurry to find a place to hide in closets, under the couch or under beds. And then, it takes a while to get them calmed down again enough to feel safe to resume their regular routine.
Of course this reaction is similar for many other types of pets as well.
From covering the creation of a fireworks bylaw in the City of Kawartha Lakes in 2020, I know fireworks shows also have a similar impact on livestock at farms.
"I came home from visiting family last night and went down to my barn to clean, feed, and lock my animals up for the night. What I found was my animals in such a state of stress, they were running wildly around the barnyard, and part of my split rail fence had been disassembled because my livestock guardian dog had clawed at it so much, she dislodged the rails. Thank goodness I arrived home when I did, to calm everyone down and ensure no one was hurt," read a letter submitted from one resident, at the time, to council.
This would probably be a good time to remind residents of Kawartha Lakes, fireworks can only be fired off in the municipality between dusk and 11 p.m., on Victoria Day, Canada Day, Family Day, Indigenous Peoples Day, Labour Day and New Year's Eve. Fireworks are also allowed the day before and after these holidays.
One reason why there is a time limit for fireworks is, of course, to limit the impact of noise on local residents. Celebrating holidays or important moments in life is fine, of course, but people need to remember there may be residents in the community who need to wake up early for work or retired individuals in the community who enjoy the lifestyle of having a quiet, relaxing, safe community. Residents need to be cognizant, as well, of neighbours who have worked hard during the week or who are first-time parents and need to catch up on their sleep.
So, before you send fireworks into the air, I'm asking people to think about how your party could impact those who live near you.
It's a good idea to create a plan to limit the impact your party will have on your neighbourhood, and of course, make sure you are aware of the rules of the community you are in. If you think ahead, you may save bylaw officers or police officers from having to respond to a noise complaint. Thinking of others is the right thing to do.