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100 complaints a year prompt Sarnia to crack down on backyard fireworks 

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Anyone setting off fireworks in Sarnia outside of specified holiday periods could faced fines of up to $300 under a new proposed bylaw.

“I know there are people setting them off at inappropriate times and people complain to me personally,” said Fire Chief Bryan Van Gaver.

“Right now the wording is vague in the bylaw about when you can light them on private property, and we’re going to fix that.”

Sarnia Fire Rescue Service has seen an increase in complaints to about 100 a year, prompting a review of the rules established 20 years ago, the chief said.

“It’s a lot to do with timing, and also a lot to do with giving our fire prevention people the right to issue tickets when it’s necessary.”

The current bylaw does not address enforcement.

Van Gaver consulted with the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs on how other municipalities deal with fireworks ignited outside permitted times. He concluded a fine of $200 to $300 would be appropriate.

“I’m going to take a strict approach to this. Fireworks going off at all hours throughout the summer impacts people across the municipality,” he said.

The new bylaw, like the current one, would require a permit to set off fireworks on public property. Fireworks would only be allowed on Victoria Day, July 1 and any pre-approved “special occasions day,” as well as three days before and three days after the specified holiday.

“I know there are a lot of shift workers out there who can’t always celebrate on the exact holiday,” Van Gaver said.  “This gives them some extra time.”

Fireworks will no longer be allowed on the U.S. July 4 holiday.

Fireworks vendors could sell to anyone over the age of 18 only during the seven days prior to an approved holiday.

A draft of the new fireworks bylaw will go to city council on June 27 following a public consultation period.  Residents can read the draft at and comment via email to [email protected] or by mail at Fire Station 1, 240 East St. North, Sarnia ON. N7T 6X7.

Once approved by council, the fine schedule will be submitted to the Attorney General of Ontario for approval.

Along with the new fireworks bylaw, Van Gaver has drafted Sarnia’s first bylaw covering pyrotechnic effects for indoor and outdoor performances. It is also online at for public comment.



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