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Increase in illegal fireworks gets attention from Langley Township council

Stricter enforcement and more education on rules planned

Langley Township’s council wants to cut down on illicit firework use, using a carrot and stick approach.

On Monday, April 25, council unanimously approved a plan to increase education on fireworks rules, create a dedicated email address for complaints about fireworks, and to add proactive patrols of RCMP and bylaws officers at fireworks hot spots around major holidays like Canada Day and Halloween.

The three recommendations came from a working group including firefighters, RCMP, and bylaw officials that was established last November.

There has been a noted increase in the use of illicit fireworks across the Township.

Councillor Kim Richter suspected one possible cause was that people were moving to Langley who didn’t know about the strict regulations.

“It seems to me, at least what I’ve seen in the last year, is that we’re seeing a turnover of population in the Township, particularly in the rural areas,” she said, “and people are setting off these fireworks probably not even knowing that we have rules against fireworks.”

Richter asked about whether there would be ads in the local papers just before major fireworks holidays like Halloween or Canada Day.

“Canada Day, Halloween, those events would have targeted advertising,” said Township administrator Mark Bakken.

But he said it wouldn’t be just for those holidays, there will be ongoing advertising and educational efforts to get the word out several times a year.

Coun. Petrina Arnason suggested that the pandemic played a big role in the uptick of fireworks, as well as ignorance of the rules.

“It could be just the fact that people felt frustrated at COVID, wanted to get together, why not have some fireworks,” she said.

She suggested a ban of all fireworks except licensed displays is necessary.

“These incidences are not decreasing, this is not waning, in fact it’s actually expanding across the Township of Langley,” Arnason said.

It’s a safety concern, an environmental concern, and a property concern for nearby residents, she added.

Right now, fireworks displays are legal in the Township, but only with a permit and under stringent guidelines. For example, the Township’s fire chief can require a safety plan be created in advance, and the person setting up the fireworks needs a certification from the federal Explosives Regulatory Division.

The sale of fireworks is banned in both Langley City and Township.

READ ALSO: Five-storey storage unit expected for Langley Township

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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