Residents in Brampton, Ont., may soon be barred from setting off personal fireworks on major holidays as the city moves to issue a ban following a surge in complaints related to safety, noise and debris.
The city's committee of council unanimously passed a motion this week to amend Brampton's fireworks bylaw to immediately prohibit the use and sale of fireworks. The motion needs to be ratified by city council at a meeting on Monday.
Brampton received 1,491 calls related to fireworks in 2022, up from 492 in 2018, according to city councillor Dennis Keenan who introduced the motion.
"The city's bylaw and enforcement team has also issued $38,000 in fines this year, and excessive noise, fire-safety concerns and left-over garbage piles are among the grievances received," he said in his motion.
The minimum fines would be harsher for those who break the rules -- $500 for discharging fireworks, and $1,000 for selling them, both up from $350.
The film industry and city-run events would be excluded from the ban.
Short-range fireworks are currently allowed on private property in Brampton without the need for a permit on Victoria Day, Canada Day, Diwali and New Year’s Eve. Those fireworks are only permitted to travel up to three metres, about the height of a basketball net.
Brampton said it will add an annual city-run Diwali celebration event with fireworks, similar to those on Canada Day and New Year’s Eve in 2023, if the motion is ratified.
Mayor Patrick Brown said residents should be able to celebrate holidays safely, without disruption, excessive noise or debris.
"We have heard the concerns of our community regarding the fireworks bylaw, and it is our goal that by amending it, we will all enjoy our holidays safely," he said in a statement.
"I thank everyone for making their voices heard on this topic, and look forward to welcoming residents to our first annual Diwali celebration event next year."
The president of a Hindu umbrella organization representing several Greater Toronto Area temples said people enjoy using fireworks during Diwali, but everyone should consider the safety and well-being of others while celebrating.
Hindu Federation president Pandit Roopnauth Sharma said he welcomes the city's move because it bans the use of personal fireworks all year around, not only on Diwali.
Sharma said he appreciates the city providing an alternative on the holiday.
"The city is taking responsibility to providing some facility that the community can still enjoy and relish this kind of function but in a public square where safety and all the other guidelines are adhered to," he said.
"That is a good move on the part of the city."
Peel police said last month their 911 line had received "an influx" of calls related to fireworks complaints on Diwali and encouraged residents to contact the city for bylaw-related complaints.
Environment Canada warned last month that "high levels of air pollution" were anticipated across the Greater Toronto Area due to expected fireworks for Diwali, prompting questions about why the major Hindu holiday was singled out.
The special weather air quality statement forecasted moderate risks in Toronto, Brampton, Mississauga, Hamilton, and York and Durham regions, with some potential short-term high risks to air quality.
The agency later updated its statement to remove the mention of Diwali.
Mississauga allows only low-hazard recreational fireworks on private property without a permit on Diwali, but Toronto requires one.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2022.
Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press