Will other GTA cities follow Brampton’s firework ban?

Sabrina Almeida

The ban on personal fireworks has reportedly had mixed reactions in Brampton. Really? After all the excessive noise, safety concerns, garbage and environmental pollution communities here suffered for days!!!

Having said that, the dissent, which was mostly from individuals belonging to the South Asian community, is not totally surprising. There will always be a section of society that is ‘entitled’ and ‘insensitive’ to those around them. In this particular case, the said individuals failed to understand that the permission to set off personal fireworks on Diwali was a privilege, not a right! 

And of course, what’s also not surprising is that they’re pulling out the racial card to try and reinstate it.

Many of these individuals who oppose the ban say it “unfairly” targets the South Asian community. It’s the same rhetoric that was used when Environment Canada issued an air quality statement in relation to the Diwali fireworks. Well the warning was justified with some Bramptonians (also South Asians) reporting that they couldn’t see through the haze the following morning!

Moreover, if South Asians were the ones that caused the problem then they have to bear the consequences of their actions!

In reality what was not fair was the insensitivity some Diwali celebrants displayed towards their neighbours by setting off fireworks outside prescribed times and days. 

If we’re being absolutely honest here, it’s not just ‘some’ but ‘many’ who flouted the fireworks rules, a thousand complaints gives credence to that. 

Seeing is also believing! I’ve driven through Brampton during Diwali in the past couple of years and have personally witnessed how terrifying this can be with people setting off fireworks from crowded strip malls, near vehicles on narrow residential streets and in public parks. Friends who live here dread the festival because of the nuisance it creates… and they’re all South Asian.

This year was probably the worst!

So, I would like to commend the Brampton City Council for standing up for “all” residents and unanimously supporting a ban that they knew would anger a portion of their vote bank. It was the right thing to do!

Moreover, councillors and residents have stated that the firework nuisance was not limited just to Diwali time. It was throughout the year – for weddings, birthdays and any other occasion that some individuals chose to celebrate with a bang. One resident tweeted that it was an “everyday thing” in their neighbourhood which shows the extent of the problem.

But while Brampton has been in the spotlight for the numerous complaints and the ban, it is not the only city that has endured the fireworks nuisance. Many neighbourhoods in Mississauga have also been affected by it, judging from the umpteen grievances and pictorial evidence posted in neighbourhood chat groups.

I too could hear the fireworks going off for several days before and after Diwali in my Mississauga neighbourhood this year. So naturally residents like me are wondering whether Mississauga and other cities where personal fireworks bylaws are being violated will follow Brampton’s lead?

In the end, a ban is only as good as its enforcement. Some are skeptical and say that the move won’t eliminate the problem in Brampton because of a lack of follow-up. They’re upset because their complaints weren’t addressed this year. I’d like to think that it was because the city couldn’t keep up with the calls. Peel police even urged the public not to call 9-1-1 with firework complaints because the 3-1-1 lines were jammed.

Brampton is also going after illegal fireworks sales – another smart and critical thing to do. You can’t use them, if you don’t have them!

As for whether the ban is racially-motivated or targeting the South Asian community – that’s a ridiculous accusation given that Brampton will organize a public fireworks display for Diwali just like on Victoria Day and Canada Day. That’s a great gesture.

Other GTA cities should take this opportunity to evaluate the situation and not hesitate to institute a similar ban on personal fireworks in the interest of residents’ and environmental safety! 

Let’s put the ban in context and safely enjoy all holidays and festivals.

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