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Toronto is considering limiting fireworks use instead of education and inclusivity

Toronto is exploring ways to limit the sale and use of fireworks — currently only allowed without a permit on two civic holidays.  In recent years, there has been an increase in consumer fireworks use in Toronto, especially in parks and public spaces, the City of Toronto notes.

The Canadian National Fireworks Association (CNFA) would like to see the city's culturally diverse population celebrate holidays such as Diwali and Lunar New Year with fireworks. 

At the recent widely attended Toronto Fireworks Summit, research unveiled through national polling firm Abacus Data confirmed overwhelmingly that cultural celebrations are significantly important and most residents agreed to having fireworks included in celebrations and traditions.  

According to Dr. David Coletto, CEO and founding partner of Abacus Data: “This isn’t a contentious issue. Two in three Toronto residents we surveyed believe that residents should have the option to use fireworks to celebrate cultural holidays if it is done safely. A majority support including Diwali and Lunar New Year as part of permit free days.”  

As Scarborough-Agincourt Ward 22 Councillor Nick Mantas notes “Toronto is a proud multi-racial city that embraces a wide variety of cultures and faiths. And our city flourishes because of this.”   

Councillor Mantas adds that “various practices including the usage of fireworks should continue to be celebrated as they are culturally symbolic on days such as Diwali and Lunar New Year.”

Right now Toronto allows the private use of fireworks, without a permit, on Victoria Day and Canada Day. While those are great, CNFA says the city should be inclusive of Toronto's diverse population and include Diwali and Lunar New Year.

The city notes that "Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world," and that is reflected in their motto "Diversity, Our Strength."   As an industry regulated by all levels of government, over 4,000 fireworks products are tested by the Department of Natural Resources Explosives Division and when used as instructed, are a great source of enjoyment for families and celebrations.

"Identifying and removing barriers to full participation of the diverse communities in the life of the city is key to creating equitable access to opportunities and benefits to service recipients," the city states.

The CNFA has launched a petition calling on the City of Toronto to expand the use of consumer fireworks to include Diwali and Lunar New Year, two important holidays celebrated by hundreds of thousands of residents across the city. 

Through research and focus groups, a report released in April 2022 by the City of Toronto states that some were surprised that cultural holidays such as Lunar New Year and Diwali were not included in the list of permitted firework holidays. The city’s same research overwhelmingly points to the need for enhanced education on fireworks.

The City of Toronto has also noted many people don't know the rules around fireworks and the CNFA suggests better education and awareness is needed. According to the same city report, 73 per cent of respondents are not aware of fireworks regulations. 

As Carleton Grant, Toronto’s Executive Director of Municipal Licensing and Standards noted, “We have some of the strictest by-laws about where fireworks are permitted or not. The public is just unaware of the rules around fireworks in Toronto.”  

Better education and information requirements at the point of sale would help educate users on the safe use, according to the CNFA.    While increased by-law enforcement by the city may seem like an easy fix, Grant adds: “Additional staff is tough. We only have 200 people [by-law officers], they work on shifts that are not working at the same time and there are 1,500 parks in the City of Toronto.”

Making the CNFA’s Vendor Certification and Employee Training Program a requirement for all retailers in the City of Toronto will reduce the delinquent use by those who are not aware of the regulations that they are required to understand before discharging.

In June 2021, the CNFA introduced the "Be a Good Neighbour" educational campaign to bring awareness to the Greater Toronto area. It provides users and vendors a resource for education and safety materials to promote a positive fireworks experience for everyone, including their neighbours.

Lead photo by

Worrowat Engchuan

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