Banning sound?
May 21, 2020 6:50 PM   Subscribe

I would like to make audible fireworks illegal in Toronto. I've heard of other Canadian cities doing this. What's the process? How do I get this done?
posted by dobbs to Law & Government (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This would need bylaws in the former municipality community councils, since there's no overarching noise bylaw for the city. I understand that most of them have restrictions on when fireworks can be set off, but there's no enforcement. Plus you have large communities for which they're a traditional cultural expression, so you'd have to work with them to make your point first.
posted by scruss at 7:25 PM on May 21, 2020 [3 favorites]

This is the City of Toronto's existing fireworks bylaw: TORONTO MUNICIPAL CODE CHAPTER 466, FIREWORKS.

Under the City of Toronto Act, Toronto City Council can amend, rescind, or enact by-laws that are part of the municipal code.

Essentially, you would need to get enough people banging on enough city councillors' doors for them to bring forward a bylaw amendment to council, or yours would need to be sufficiently motivated to do so. Then it would have to pass council, which is a whole other ball game. Usually these things get dealt with in the relevant committee first. It would likely be Municipal Licensing and Standards in this instance.

This is a legit query to make with your ward councillor's office for starters: "If I, as a resident, wanted to lobby to change this part [relevant section(s)] of Chapter 466 of the Muncipal Code, what would need to happen?"

The short answer is: there's a whole variety of instances of fireworks displays contemplated under Chapter 466 ranging from large, commercial and formally permitted displays (think Canada Day), to "family fireworks," to specific allowances for cultural festivals. So there's alot going on in there. And that's just the stuff about actual displays, let alone how purchase and sales are permitted around certain holidays. So, it's fairly complicated.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:29 PM on May 21, 2020 [4 favorites]

Definitely contact the council, and you might see if a local group is already working on this issue. Some arguments taken into consideration elsewhere include the possible trauma to humans and animals, and environmental hazards: Quiet fireworks? Why some celebrations won't go on with a bang (July 22, 2018) Fiery explosions scare wildlife and pets, put rural areas at risk of forest fires

Banff ditched its conventional fireworks display for a "quiet fireworks" show this past Canada Day. [...] The decision to abandon fireworks was made earlier in the year by the city council to protect pets and wildlife that inhabit Banff National Park during all holiday celebrations from now on. "During fireworks displays, many of the domestic animals in our neighbourhood showed signs of distress such as shaking, hiding or running away," said Reg Bunyan, vice-president of the Bow Valley Naturalist, the conservation group that suggested the switch.

Halifax council studies quiet fireworks displays to avoid alarming veterans (February 26, 2020) A Nova Scotia city councillor is pushing for quiet fireworks in Halifax out of concern the noise is alarming veterans and people on the autism spectrum. However, some in the pyrotechnics industry say the idea is likely to fizzle when the City of Halifax views the high costs, while a veteran with PTSD notes not all people with wartime traumas react badly to the shows.

Petition for "silent fireworks" display in Thunder Bay gaining momentum (July 10, 2018) Erin Ferriolo wants the city to eliminate loud fireworks and replace them with "silent fireworks" to ensure that pets and animals around Thunder Bay are not disturbed. [...] As she did more research, she realized the notion for quiet fireworks wouldn't just be for animals, but also for the environment and for people who suffer from PTSD and autism, who can sometimes struggle with loud noises.
The second article links to an amended motion sent to the Halifax council, requesting a staff report on silent fireworks: "It requests examination of the cost and “possible benefits associated with using silent pyrotechnics over traditional fireworks,” along with information on the health impacts of the popular displays."
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:05 PM on May 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Are you talking about professionally produced, permitted fireworks displays or fireworks that people shoot off in their backyards, or both? If the former, it might make sense to start with the organization that sponsors one of the big displays (Canada Day? Probably too soon to change this year, that will probably be budgeted and choreographed already). Home fireworks are much tougher; my US state bans all fireworks but people buy them in neighboring states and deploy them for special occasions. It’s pretty difficult to police.
posted by mskyle at 4:38 AM on May 22, 2020

I'll take this sideways - figure out why you want them banned, and make all the arguments FOR keeping them that will come up. How can you address the those arguments? So, just spitballing, if your concern is the risk of fire/human injury, and the argument FOR is that it is a cultural tradition important to some holidays can you suggest that private fireworks be banned and that displays be limited to commercial companies that receive permits (and make the list inclusive and not just Victoria Day/Canada day but include Diwali for example).
posted by saucysault at 9:57 AM on May 22, 2020

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