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Ladysmith Days rejection ignites town push to forge own fireworks bylaw

Town council investigating taking control of local fireworks decision-making away from CVRD
Spectators at the Transfer Beach amphitheatre have a superb view of the Ladysmith Days fireworks being set off from the Saltair Marine barge in the middle of Ladysmith Harbour. (Duck Paterson file photo 2019)

It’s not clear at this point if fireworks will be returning to Ladysmith any time soon.

But the paperwork is underway.

A year after the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s refusal to grant a permit for the return of the annual Ladysmith Days fireworks display, Ladysmith council has started a process that could end with the town withdrawing from the CVRD fireworks bylaw and enacting a fireworks bylaw of its own.

According to councillor Duck Paterson, this move was prompted by the refusal of the CVRD board to grant a fireworks discharge permit in 2021 to the Ladysmith Celebrations Society which would have allowed the society to host its annual pyrotechnics show from a barge 500 metres out in Ladysmith Harbour. Notwithstanding recent pandemic-related interruptions, the Ladysmith Days fireworks display has been attracting thousands to Transfer Beach Park for years.

At the time, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone made a case for the Ladysmith Days Fireworks Spectacular to go ahead, but other CVRD directors determined that the fireworks represented a fire risk.

Ladysmith is governed by the CVRD’s “Fireworks Sale and Discharge Regulation Bylaw 1970,” which states no individuals or organizations can set off any fireworks except on Jan. 1, July 1 and Oct. 31, and only then if they have a permit issued by the CVRD. The only exceptions are the Municipality of North Cowichan and the City of Duncan who have their own bylaws, and local First Nations communities, which are considered outside the CVRD.

According to Stone, the CVRD is considering a total ban on fireworks at any time across the whole region, including their sale.

At its April 5 meeting, Ladysmith council debated a recommendation to opt out of the CVRD bylaw and to instruct staff to prepare a bylaw governing the sale, possession and discharge of fireworks specific to the Town of Ladysmith.

The motion to develop its own bylaw was passed with only councillor Rob Johnson voting against. A staff report on the process will be presented to council before it proceeds with a withdrawal request to the CVRD.

Ladysmith’s withdrawal would not affect neighbouring Saltair and North Oyster (areas G and H).

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Fireworks pop over the logger sports poles at the Transfer Beach amphitheatre. (Teresa McKinley file)

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