FORT ST. JOHN, B.C – The City of Fort St. John is considering a New Year’s Eve fireworks display as it looks to prevent residents from setting off their own illegal display.

If council votes in favour of the proposal on Monday, the display will occur in 2022, adding to the annual Canada Day fireworks.

“There is a considerable value in providing community funded fireworks events which allow celebrations to take place while ensuring a safer experience,” said CAO Milo MacDonald in a June 14th report. “This report is an attempt to provide better and safer alternatives to the public.”

The city has received numerous complaints of illegal fireworks being set off, especially around Canada Day and Halloween, says the report.

“Many of the citizens who complain, report that fireworks cause their pets to have anxiety or run away,” says the report.

“The North Peace BC SPCA branch has corroborated this information and indicates that on the day of, and the day after a major holiday like Canada Day, they receive 12-20 stray pets who have run away due to the noise created by shooting off fireworks.”

According to the fire prevention bylaw, fireworks can’t be sold, given, or set off in the City. A $100 fine could be handed out to those who don’t abide by the bylaw. With a fireworks supplier permit, the fire department is allowed to set off fireworks for events.

The Bylaw Department has reported difficulties enforcing the bylaw, says the report.

“What often happens is Bylaw staff will receive a complaint call, and by the time they are dispatched, the firework show is over,” the report states.

“Most of these complaints are received after hours. The additional expense of overtime costs often required to investigate a neighbourhood fireworks display can outweigh the fine of $100.”

The city’s current contract for Canada Day fireworks, expiring at the end of this year, costs between $15,000 to $20,000 a year. City staff will issue a request for quotes for 2022 to 2024.

The report says staff is interested in further exploring alternative options in the future, such as laser shows or drone shows.

Council will discuss the proposed display on Monday.