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Fireworks Town Hall - A Real Public Consultation
July 25 2023
Last night, I witnessed something that rarely happens in Etobicoke: a Town Hall hosted by a current sitting City Councillor. This is not to say that they don't happen, but very rarely in the west-end does a councillor actually host a discussion on an issue outside of required development matters, and one that is so well advertised throughout the ward that interested residents can plan to attend.
The Town Hall held at The Assembly Hall on the grounds of the Humber College Lakeshore Campus, was focused on discussing the ongoing issues associated with consumer fireworks in lakeside parks, which has been a problem for years. This is a matter that first-term Councillor Amber Morley has taken over from the previous local councillor, and she is now pushing the city to find actual solutions.
As a resident of Ward 2, fireworks also cause issues for our community, but in different ways. While we may experience them going off on weekends and such, outside of the two days a year it is legal without a permit, it is not a constant issue every night like it is for residents in and near the Humber Bay Shores community in south Etobicoke. However, many of us have heard of fireworks being misused by local youth on and near local TTC buses, which has also occurred in recent months in other parts of the city. This behavior is unacceptable and very dangerous. As the parent of a teen who was actually on a bus when this happened, I have very personal concerns and thoughts, and so I was interested to hear more on the topic in this public forum.
The evening began with information about how fireworks affect our local wildlife, wetlands, and parks. It is eye-opening when you think about how many animals live right here in the city, and we need to remember that our actions affect them when all they are doing is trying to survive! There was then a presentation on safety and regulations, followed by a discussion on what is being done to try and make life better for everyone. Residents on both sides of the issue had a chance to speak about what they witness throughout the spring and summer. Many residents cannot sleep when fireworks are being let off at two and three in the morning and are asking the city to bring in more enforcement or to ban fireworks altogether. Other residents believe permits are okay, but they want to see more police and by-law officers out on the beat to fine those who are causing the problems on public property.
Business owners from the fireworks industry also made some very valid points on the issues. They mentioned that they do educate consumers who are making the purchases and advise both on safe use and only sell to those over 18, as the law requires. They also mentioned that different cultures use these products at different times, so the city should consider holidays like Lunar New Year and Diwali, as families in this city want to celebrate and are responsible on their own property. These residents should not be punished because of others' bad behavior.
At the moment, Toronto City Council is awaiting a report to come back on how to deal with these matters and, hopefully, have answers on how Toronto can combat the problems that have been ongoing for years (I will follow this issue closely and update everyone once it is complete).
In the meantime, the city has begun educating and making by-law officers more visible in waterfront hot spots, both this past Victoria Day and Canada Day long weekends. While this does not solve the problem, it does start the conversation and makes people aware that the habits of some need to begin to change. Councillor Morley and her staff are awaiting this report so that they can move the issue forward, and she continues to advocate for her community. While some residents feel the process should go faster, procedures in municipal politics are in place and must be followed. When the report does come back the residents will be able to find it online and at that time can also give their input to Councillor Morley’s office and to council as a whole, but I will provide more on that when the time comes.
That said, from what I witnessed last night the residents of Ward 3 are in good hands as they have a Councillor who sees them, hears them, and is willing to work with them to make a better Etobicoke Lakeshore for all who call it home. Many residents across the city would love to have that in their community.
What I took away from the meeting is that more work needs to be done in other wards to increase communication between the councillors and local residents. As a resident you have a right to speak up if you see problems that need to be addressed and you should never feel you cannot speak to your councillor about it as this is part of their job representing you. If you cannot find an answer then reach out to a neighbouring ward and see if you can speak to another council office who may have some suggestions on next steps. If you are really stuck, then speak to your neighbours and work together to bring attention to an issue because the more voices you bring to the table the harder it is for someone to ignore!
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