labour day fireworks

Residents call for more rules around fireworks in Toronto after Labour Day incidents

With the usual major Labour Day festivities in and around Toronto cancelled this past weekend, many residents arranged their own little get-togethers and fireworks displays to close out what we can all agree was an extremely unusual summer.

Unfortunately for those celebrating, approved pyrotechnics are only actually sanctioned on private property in the city on Canada Day and Victoria Day, unless you have a special permit from Toronto Fire Services— and now there are renewed calls for stricter policing of colourful backyard explosives.

A petition demanding improved fireworks sensibility and sensitivity in Toronto has been circulating around community groups on social media this week, with citizens calling local DIY displays completely "out of control."

"We have created a petition to put some control on what has basically become an out-of-control situation in the city: the use of fireworks going off anytime and anywhere," one user posted in the Etobicoke Fireworks Remediation Committee Facebook group on Tuesday.

"It's a huge concern down here on in Humber Bay Shores — they have been going off almost every single night since it warmed up in May — and I know it's bad in parks in the east end too," they continued. "A friend at Bathurst and College of all places reported fireworks going off last evening at midnight on the street corner. It's just absurd."

Others in a group for the Bloor West, High Park and Junction neighbourhoods shared the same petition and talked of fireworks erupting "at all hours on weekends and during the week" lately.

Apparently the same has been happening elsewhere in the city too, like in Parkdale.

Those involved in the discussions are not calling for an outright ban, but for greater enforcement of existing city bylaws, and for more action by Mayor John Tory and city councillors.

Citizens are also requesting further restrictions on fireworks sales in Toronto — which are only supposed to be conducted with the proper license — along with more public education about the rules surrounding them.

"Toronto public spaces have become a free-for-all for year-round fireworks," the online petition reads, citing the disturbance backyard shows can cause residents, particularly those with PTSD and those of the animal variety. Pollution and potential injuries are also worries.

"It's time for us to be more responsible with fireworks — for the sake of our pets, our parklands, our wildlife, and one another," it states.

In some jurisdictions in countries like the U.S. and Australia, consumer fireworks have long been completely outlawed, with shows only viewable when organized for the public on major holidays.

Within Canada, some municipalities have their own rules; in Regina, for example, only licensed professionals are allowed to set them off.

Though it's questionable whether Toronto would ever see such restrictions, it's clear that random summer displays lit in parks and backyards aren't impressing all of the neighbours.

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