With the COVID-19 Provincial Stay-At-Home Order (O.Reg.265/21) in effect since April 8, 2021, and traditional in-person Victoria Day fireworks ceremonies prohibited, the City of Ottawa saw an increase in smaller, home-based fireworks use over the 2021 Victoria Day long weekend.
This increase is evidenced in the number of service requests received by both Ottawa Fire Services and By-law and Regulatory Services, as compared to previous years.
2021 May 21 to 24
- Calls to fire services: 17
- Calls to by-law: 130
2020 May 15 to 18
- Calls to fire services: 4
- Calls to by-law: 23
Given that provincial COVID-19 regulations will still be in place on July 1, 2021, it follows that a similar increase in fireworks-related issues may be anticipated for this year’s Canada Day.
In order to mitigate fire hazards and to encourage the safe and respectful use of fireworks for the period surrounding Canada Day 2021, staff proposes the multi-pronged approach outlined below.
To ensure awareness of the rules and regulations around the sale and discharge of fireworks, staff will conduct a comprehensive community outreach campaign, focusing on mitigation and prevention of inappropriate use of fireworks.
- School Boards: By-law and Regulatory Services will contact its community partners at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, the Ottawa Catholic School Board, Le Conseil des Ecoles Catholiques du Centre-Est and Le Conseil des écoles Publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario to request that fireworks safety messaging be provided to students and their families.
- Fireworks Vendors: Ottawa Fire Services (OFS) and By-law and Regulatory Services (BLRS) will collaborate to develop and disseminate information to known fireworks vendors in the Ottawa area about fireworks safety and outlining their legal responsibilities as well as those of clients/users. The goal of this initiative is to have this information provided by the vendors directly to each client who purchases fireworks.
To provide for more comprehensive and targeted social media outreach, OFS and BLRS will collaborate to conduct a media campaign aimed at a target audience of youth aged 15-24, with the following schedule:
- June 22 to July 2: OFS and BLRS to post fireworks safety tips on all social media accounts
- June 28 – City of Ottawa’s Public Information and Media Relations will disseminate a Canada Day public service announcement outlining safety tips and fireworks regulations
- June 28 and 29 – OFS and BLRS Public Information Officers to conduct media interviews
BLRS and OFS will also consult with partners at the National Capital Commission to seek further information pertaining to the Canada Day virtual fireworks display and other activities, with a view to promoting these alternatives. This information will be disseminated via social media to encourage Ottawa residents to participate in these virtual festivities rather than to engage in their own.
Regulatory and Enforcement
In conjunction with the above-noted communications initiatives, the following regulatory and enforcement activities will be implemented to mitigate the hazards, nuisance and disruption to communities brought about by improper fireworks usage:
- RCFS staff: Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services programming park and beach staff will provide information and educate park patrons on the regulations surrounding fireworks usage on Canada Day.
- By-law Enforcement Officers: With support from Ottawa Police Service partners, By-law Enforcement Officers will be deployed to problematic parks on the evening of Canada Day to enforce applicable park closures under the Parks and Facilities By-law (2004-276) as well as to enforce the Fireworks By-law (2003-237) and Provincial COVID-19 Orders.
- Display fireworks use prohibitions:
- OFS and BLRS will not be issuing display fireworks permits under the Fireworks By-law (2003-237)
- Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services will not be issuing permits to provide for display fireworks in parks on Canada Day 2021. Pursuant to the Parks and Facilities By-law (2004-276), igniting or discharging a firework in a City park is unlawful without a permit issued by RCFS as well as one issued by OFS/BLRS as noted above.
- Early park closures: With reference to the memorandum entitled “Temporarily amending opening hours of select City parks due to COVID-19” dated April 14, 2021, Councillors who wish to temporarily amend park hours in their Ward for any period on, or around, Canada Day may make such a request through the General Manager, Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services. Evening park closures may serve to discourage fireworks usage in public areas.
The necessary work to implement the foregoing is currently underway.