Sicamous council was up in smoke last week over its fireworks bylaw, after debate was sparked by a presentation from Lukies owner John Choi and his daughter Linda.
Added as a late item, council opted to keep the bylaw as is – after a motion was put forward to amend the bylaw to allow the sale of fireworks during firework bans – but not before some heated discussion.
“We just want to be treated fair,” said Linda after voicing her father’s concern that retailers in Sicamous are not permitted to sell fireworks, but those outside of the district, Salmon Arm included, continue to do so.
“Within the bylaw is a ban on firework sales. If the province (Ministry of Forests) puts a fireworks or fire ban on, which they have effective of June 15… based on the bylaw, no sales are to take place,” said chief administrative officer Alan Harris.
Acting mayor, Coun. Fred Busch added that Area E also has a fireworks ban in place, and that fireworks can’t be fired off on the lake either.
“I do feel sorry for our businesses here because in a sense they are being penalized when others are not…,” said Coun. Charlotte Hutchinson. “The onus is on the person who’s buying it to do it wisely. To penalize our businesses, I don’t think, I understand the logic of it, but I don’t think it’s fair.”
Busch responded that allowing the sale of fireworks when there is a ban is hypocritical.
“You can buy from Grindrod fine, but where are you going to set them off? You can’t set them off in Sicamous, you can’t set them off in Area E, so where are you going to set them off?”
Although understanding of the concerns of local businesses, Harris said the outright ban of fireworks has always been staff’s position.
Coun. Jerry Silva said that in 2009 when the fireworks bylaw was put in place, the intent wasn’t to hurt local businesses.
“Our bylaw makes this a safer community, our bylaw allows the police to enforce the use of fireworks and the purchase of fireworks. Without it, the police would have nothing but a nuisance…,” he said, adding the threat of wild fires is real.”
In the end, the motion to amend the bylaw was put out, with only Richardson and Hutchinson in favour of the amendment. Mayor Malcolm MacLeod was not in attendance.