London permits fireworks for Diwali and Chinese Lunar New Year

A majority of council has once again voted to permit backyard fireworks to celebrate Diwali and Chinese Lunar New Year.

Last August, council voted 10-5 in support of expanding the number of days when backyard fireworks are permitted.

However, on March 18, the five-member Community and Protective Services Committee refused to rubber stamp the necessary by-law amendment that would add Diwali and Chinese Lunar New Year to the existing permissions on Canada Day and Victoria Day.

The committee’s recommendation sparked concern in the impacted communities and led to a lengthy debate at Tuesday’s city council.

Coun. Steve Lehman and Coun. Corrine Rahman put forward a motion to overrule the committee recommendation and approve the addition of Diwali and Chinese Lunar New Year.

“The community feels. ‘Here we go again.’ We thought this had been decided upon,” said Lehman.

Coun. Sam Trosow maintained his opposition to backyard fireworks, “No matter how many more holidays you add to this by-law, it’s not being effectively enforced.”

Rahman expressed disappointment that come councillors’ comments seemed to diminish the religious and cultural significance of fireworks to the celebrations.

“Sometimes we struck a nerve,” she explained.

“We have a commitment in our Strategic Plan to an Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Framework that I don’t believe we are using fully enough as council members,” she explained. “I will say I felt it myself when we were having this conversation.”

Council voted to overturn the committee recommendation— adding the new dates for backyard firework displays.

“We can say you can celebrate in a different way, but that’s not necessarily listening to the community,” said Mayor Josh Morgan. “I actually think they spoke loud and clear about the importance of backyard fireworks in support of the celebration of Diwali and Chinese Lunar New Year.”

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