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Fireworks questions could light up discussion at Barrie council

'There's definitely an appetite to create further restrictions,' councillor says of fireworks in the city
Fireworks ignite the night sky over downtown Barrie in this file photo.

Barrie residents could soon be grilled about the city’s fireworks regulations, and possible changes, through online and phone poll questions.

Councillors will consider a motion Feb. 28 instructing city staff to get public feedback and do a phone survey, for as much as $5,000, on restricting fireworks in residential areas. Staff would then report back with the results.

“The residents that have reached out to me over the past couple of years, after we made changes to the fireworks bylaw in 2021, have requested greater restrictions specific to residential fireworks,” said Coun. Ann-Marie Kungl.

“I think before we consider any future changes to residential fireworks, it would be a good approach to engage the public more broadly on what they would like to see either changed or kept in place, and to do this engagement with some education and reminders about what is permitted at this time," she added.

In June 2021, council changed the city’s regulatory matters bylaw.

Without a business licence for fireworks or a pyrotechnic display, and/or an applicable special event permit, fireworks are only permitted in Barrie on Victoria Day, Canada Day and New Year’s Day, and for the duration of the Lunar New Year and Diwali, the five-day Festival of Lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world, usually sometime between October and November.

Barrie’s noise bylaw prohibits the detonation of fireworks after 11 p.m., but there had previously been no provisions for times in the regulatory matters bylaw when fireworks could go off.

Kungl has said concerns relate to noise in residential neighbourhoods impacting young families, veterans, shift workers and the well-being of pets, along with garbage left from fireworks and enforcement issues when people let them off days after the permitted time frame.

A city memo says staff have developed a series of questions to gain an understanding of residents’ general awareness of the city’s fireworks bylaw. Staff are also looking for public opinion on permitting fireworks on public property for community events hosted by the city and allowing them on private property during approved holidays.

Staff are recommending an online consultation on to include the broader community and allow residents the opportunity to provide feedback through a survey.

Questions include awareness of current bylaws, if respondents have set off fireworks, on which holidays this should be allowed, if public fireworks — those on Canada Day, for example — should be allowed, can the bylaws be enforced and should there be a complete ban, and, if so, why. 

A random phone poll, with a statistically valid sample of 1,000 residents, would also be conducted to help inform city council’s decisions.

Its questions would include whether fireworks should be allowed on private property, on which holidays, should only city-run fireworks be allowed and again, should there be a complete prohibition of fireworks.

The online feedback would take place this year between March 8 and March 29, the telephone poll during the week of April 1.

City staff would also contact the Kiwanis Club to better understand how potential changes to the bylaw would impact that organization and its planned community fundraising efforts, by selling fireworks.

“I’ve received no feedback that promotes changing the ability for business to sell fireworks in the city, or cancellation of the city provided fireworks on holidays,” Kungl said.

“From residents that engage me on fireworks, there's definitely an appetite to create further restrictions, specific to residential permissions and use," she added. "But this may not be a great indicator of broader citywide resident interests, and this is why an engagement process (survey) could be advantageous to inform council considerations.”

The proposed questions for the telephone poll may be changed, based on the online feedback from

“This two-step approach could help to educate and inform the public and provide council with a broader awareness of how residents feel about residential fireworks, before any future dialogue on changes,” Kungl said. 

Rebecca James-Reid, executive director of Access Barrie, has said Service Barrie received 35 complaints about fireworks in 2023.

The Feb. 28 motion, if approved by councillors, would still require final approval by city council, likely at its March 6 meeting.

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Bob Bruton

About the Author: Bob Bruton

Bob Bruton is a full-time BarrieToday reporter who covers politics and city hall.
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