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Retired veterinarian wants consumer fireworks banned in Nova Scotia

The Halifax Regional Municipality is trying to get the word out, the May long weekend is not a fireworks holiday
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(stock photo)

The Halifax Regional Municipality is trying to get the word out. The May long weekend is not a fireworks holiday.

"The noise bylaw restricts fireworks that generate noise to some specific days of the year," explained Matt Covey, Halifax Fire and Emergency's division chief of fire prevention. "That's Canada Day, Natal Day and New Years Eve."

Exemptions can also be granted by HRM for concerts, outside dances, festivals, university orientations, and special events.

Covey said those who violate the bylaw risk a ticket of $467 for a first offence.

"Right now they're being used when they're not supposed to be, and I think that's upsetting a lot of people," he added. "Just be respectful of your neighbours and surrounding community."

Haligonians bothered by someone setting off fireworks after 4:30 p.m. in their neighbourhood are asked to call the police non-emergency line at 902-490-5020, unless there's an imminent safety risk or injury. In that case, call 911. If it happens during the day, call 311.

Covey said, in addition to bothering neighbours, those who break the rules tie up limited emergency resources.

"So if it's police or if it's fire that are responding because you're setting off fireworks when you're not supposed to be, then we're busy dealing with that instead of something that might be more urgent," he stated.

The noise bylaw is the only municipal regulation restricting fireworks use, but Covey said if a provincial burn ban is in effect, in addition to domestic brush burning and campfires, it also prohibits fireworks. 

Retired veterinarian Hugh Chisholm believes bylaws aren't enough to deter Haligonians from setting off fireworks whenever they want.

"You can't call 911 because it's not considered an emergency ... and the police have got too many other things to deal with other than fireworks," he told CityNews Halifax.

He'd like to see the sale and use of consumer fireworks in the province banned altogether.

"If you've ever looked in the newspaper the day after a major fireworks event, you'll see all kinds of messages about missing dogs," he stated. "A beloved horse had to be put down on New Years after fireworks were set off by an uncaring neighbour ... Wildlife panic, the effect on animals can be devastating. They're absolutely terrorized by it."

"People with things like PTSD, autism and dementia, they can be triggered by events like unannounced fireworks. It can have consequences long beyond your 15 minutes of fun," Chisholm added.

However, he's not against organized displays put on by municipalities on holidays.

"Those are scheduled, you know when they're going to happen. You can prepare your pets and your livestock, but you can't prepare them for the next door neighbour when they want to set them off with no warning."

Chisholm is by far not alone on his mission.

An online petition calling for the ban on the sale of consumer fireworks in Nova Scotia has over 14,500 signatures.

"It's becoming a serious problem and our politicians don't seem to want to deal with it," Chisholm stated.

"Governments are getting more and more sensitized about taking away freedom, but this is not freedom. This is something that has adverse affects on others," he added. "When your freedom has serious consequences for others, then your freedom needs to be reined in."



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Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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