It’s been a while in coming, but the City of Vancouver has created a new policy that might help reduce the problems with underage/irresponsible people doing stupid things with consumer fireworks on Halloween.

Here’s a PDF that briefly explains the new process; it’s a matter of filling out a permit application and passing a small test. Once this is done you can print out a permit which will allow you to legally purchase and use fireworks within the city limits.

Considering the original suggestion back in 2006 was to completely ban consumer fireworks in Vancouver, or to require users to obtain a federal Display Operator’s license, I’m happy to see that the City has backed off from such draconian ideas and has made it easier and more practical to enjoy fireworks in a responsible manner…however, I’m not sure how effective this is going to be for the following reasons:

  • Federal law already required users of consumer fireworks to be 18 or older (more on this later), yet it wasn’t hard to find underage people shooting fireworks with seeming impunity…this means that either an adult was buying fireworks and giving/reselling them to minors, or retailers were selling them illegally.
  • For the sake of argument let’s assume that the new permit system works properly; it only covers the City of Vancouver so even if you’re old enough to purchase and use them legally, you could go to a vendor located outside the city limits and buy from them without requiring a permit.
  • To the best of my knowledge the federal age requirement for purchasing consumer fireworks is still 18 or older, but Vancouver is requiring people to be 19; this could raise issues with the legality of the Vancouver rules if someone felt strongly enough to challenge it. Personally I doubt that will happen, but you never know.
  • Announcing new regs two weeks before Halloween is in my opinion not the best idea, particularly when it requires retailers to take extra steps to ensure the legality of their sales; I hope the retailers were warned ahead of time that this was in the works rather than reading about it in the newspaper, as I did today.
  • I guess we’ll have to wait until after Halloween to see how well this works. I hope it does work because then it’s possible that other municipalities, including those that have completely banned the use of consumer fireworks, might rethink their positions and relax their restrictions.

    People of Vancouver: You’re being given the opportunity to show that a reasonable compromise can work…

    don’t screw it up.

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