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Kawartha Lakes looking to restrict fireworks discharging to holidays

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: City of Kawartha Lakes council is moving forward with the creation of a bylaw to restrict the use of fireworks in the municipality to holidays only. At a meeting, on Tuesday, September 15th, councillors approved a motion to have staff create a bylaw restricting the discharge of “consumer fireworks” to between dusk and 11 p.m. on Victoria Day, Canada Day, Family Day, Aboriginal Day, Labour Day and New Year’s Eve. People will be allowed to discharge fireworks the day preceding and following each of these holidays. Ward 3 councillor Doug Elmslie made the motion and recommended including in the bylaw a “special event permitting process” for people, if they want to use fireworks on a day not listed in the motion. “Having fireworks every weekend when you’re up here is problematic to a number of people, and I get complaints about it on a somewhat regular basis,” Councillor Elmslie explained. The community was split over fireworks restrictions, with council receiving a number of letters for and against a fireworks bylaw. “I find it disturbing the fireworks bylaw may be put in place, because ‘more and more people are complaining’. This is not a very accurate way to determine the will of the community. For every person complaining, there are probably just as many, if not more, [who] enjoy fireworks. This issue requires more study by council before we move to a bylaw,” read a letter from Colleen Cook. But another resident argued, fireworks have a negative effect on animals. “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 that 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 from Cathy Walker. “The cause of this stress; fireworks. Someone close by was shooting off fireworks.” A recorded vote was held on the motion, and it passed 8-1. Ward 6 Councillor Ron Ashmore was the lone member of council who opposed the motion. “I just think we’re taking away a lot of enjoyment from people’s [lives], so I’m going to vote against this. Sorry, I don’t think it’s right,” Councillor Ashmore said. At a telephone press conference, on Wednesday, September 16th, Mayor Andy Letham talked about how this bylaw, if passed, could be enforced. “Bylaw [officers] will enforce it like they do our other bylaws. It’s not going to be easy to enforce, I’ll be honest with you. If somebody sets off fireworks when they are not supposed to set off fireworks, somebody complains, whether bylaw [officers are] available to race to the scene [is a factor], but there usually is evidence after the fact and they’ll respond. We’re just trying to set some protocols, and we find most people follow the rules. We’ll do our best to enforce it.” The fireworks bylaw is expected to come before council this fall, and if passed it will be implemented in 2021.

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