Although Canada Day and Halloween are far off, a fireworks sales ban could be in Burnaby's future - depending on the outcome of a future city staff report.
Burnaby council asked the planning and building department to work with the fire department and prepare a report looking into the impacts of a fireworks sales ban in the city.
Council's requested review of a sales restriction, or ban, was in response to a letter received from the Heights Merchant Association. The letter proposed stricter signange enforcement for the temporary vendors.
The letter from the association states that vendors who temporarily set up shop in vacant commercial buildings do not respect signage bylaws and "their large, garish signage and flashing lights demonstrate their disregard for the communities that surround them."
"Our members have commented to us that temporary vendors such as these invest nothing in the community, and this lack of interest is apparent in the way they present themselves to the public," wrote Isabel Kolic, the association's executive director, in her letter to council.
But, Kolic told the Burnaby Now the association did not ask for a sales ban at all.
"From our standpoint, we wouldn't object to the sale of fireworks if those who sell them are in keeping with social considerations," she said. "But what often happens with temporary vendors like that is the way they present themselves with their sign and their visual displays and so forth, it brings down the whole area."
The association received enough complaints from the public and other merchants to propel the desire for a ban, but in the end they did not ask for one because there are some property owners in the area who depend on the temporary vendors.
"Some of them almost depend on temporary vendors now and then to help them get through temporary leases," she said. "It at least helps them pay their property tax."
Kolic said her board would like to see the city communicate with temporary vendors who set up shop, particularly those who sell fireworks, to be respective of the neighbourhood they are operating in.
"Our complaint to council wasn't really focused on merits of a sales ban on fireworks themselves, there might be merit to that, there might not be - but that wasn't the focus of our letter," she said. "We wanted to make sure that temporary vendors, particularly fireworks vendors, are more considerate in the way they present themselves and to respect signage bylaws."
Kolic said that oftentimes the signs are left behind and not taken down, which eventually litter the street.
"At the very least we ask council to consider stricter enforcement for temporary vendors and stiffer fines for the same, for not respecting signage bylaws," she stated in her letter. "It must not extend onto adjacent properties (even if said properties happen to be vacant), and it must be dismantled the day immediately following the cessation of sales."
Kolic said she is going to contact Lou Pelletier, director of planning and building, to clarify the intent of the association's letter.
But Coun. Paul McDonell was ready to ban fireworks sales outright on Monday.
Burnaby is one of the last three cities in Metro Vancouver that has yet to impose a ban on fireworks, according to McDonell.
"I think it's time we joined," he said at the March 18 council meeting. "I'd be prepared to move the motion tonight that we ban the sales of fireworks in the City of Burnaby."
Councillors Sav Dhaliwal and Dan Johnston said they were also interested in looking at a fireworks sales ban, but the mayor said all the facts should be collected before making such a decision.
"I'm inclined to have a staff report ... as opposed to simply doing it," Derek Corrigan said. "There's other impacts and I would like to be sure that we have a careful study of it."
He said the fire department in the past has not been firmly in favour of an outright ban in the city.
Dhaliwal said this issue is raised almost annually.
"I remember quite vividly that our fire department wasn't really against the ban," he said. "In fact, they support it except they also said a regional ban would be more effective."
Burnaby's fire chief Shaun Redmond said the best way to make a ban work is to enforce it at all levels of government.
"Lots of municipalities right now that have bans in place ... still experience quite a bit of use," Redmond told the Burnaby NOW. "Those are issues that probably won't go away because the desire to have fireworks and firecrackers around Halloween is still high.
"If the demand's there, someone's going to want to meet it somehow."
Redmond said it's prudent to revisit a sales ban by looking at what bylaws currently exist and what plan is appropriate to present to council.
The only time fireworks are available for sale in the city is between Oct. 25 and 31, according to Redmond.
"We're in the process right now of reviewing what's been done in the past and we're working closely with other departments," he said. "We'll see what we come up with after we have a chance to review everything."
Council approved a $250 fee for fireworks-selling permits at the Dec. 3, 2012 meeting.