1,000 signatures reached
To: Mayor John Tory, Councillor Mark Grimes, and all Councillors for the City of Toronto
Fireworks Sensibility (and Sensitivity) for Toronto
We request a five-point plan within the City of Toronto to restore safe and enjoyable use of fireworks without causing harm to wildlife, pets, persons, or the environment:
1. Introduce a public education plan.
2. Implement policies to effectively enforce the existing City of Toronto by-law to limit use of personal fireworks to Victoria Day and Canada Day.
3. Restrict firework sales in the City of Toronto to seven-day periods prior to the Victoria Day, Canada Day, and Diwali Day.
4. Increase signage in Toronto's public parks raising awareness of wildlife habitats, to improve understanding why these areas are not appropriate for fireworks.
5. Lead citizens by example: it is time for Toronto to join other major cities in adopting low-noise special effects pyrotechnic displays.
Why is this important?
In recent years, Toronto public spaces have become a free-for-all for year-round fireworks. While celebration on special public holidays like Canada Day can be enjoyed by the whole family, certain parks in Toronto, like the Humber Bay Shores and Ashbridges Bay, have suffered from individuals with disregard for the needs of wildlife or neighbourhood peace shooting fireworks almost every night of the week and as late at 1:00 am. This causes harm in multiple ways:
Quality of Life: Fireworks are being set off every night by different individuals, in many cases well after midnight. The disruption to a peaceful environment, loss of sleep, and overall harm to quality of life for residents speaks for itself.
PTSD: Fireworks can trigger panic attacks in vulnerable populations, particularly those who have experienced PTSD, including veterans, refugees, victims of gun violence. These individuals can at least plan for a few scheduled holidays, but unscheduled nightly incidents literally make the city unliveable for them.
Pollution: Research documents a two- to four-fold increase in suspended particulate matter in the air following fireworks, including trace metals harmful to our lungs. A few nights a year may be manageable, but the use of fireworks in some areas on a nightly basis through the summer becomes a health concern to local residents. And those wonderful volunteers who clean up public spaces can attest to the deluge of debris they are battling. Simply put, late night revellers typically don't clean up after themselves.
Pet / wildlife safety: Pet owners see their loved pets suffer every night fireworks are lit, experience extreme anxiety, stress, and fear during fireworks. The harm to wildlife goes beyond fear created by these loud blasts. Perchlorate contaminates ground water and harms wildlife that drink that water, inhibiting iodine uptake in the thyroid gland and inhibiting iodine from crossing the placenta, impacting the ability of the fetus to regulate hormones. Geese, ducks, swans, and grebes all consume fireworks debris left over in the water. Shoreline birds may experience panic during nesting. And the noise can lead nocturnal birds to become disoriented and fly into windows of nearby condos. Chronic exposure due to multiple fireworks per week increases the risk to animal health exponentially. Species like the nocturnal Eastern Whip-poor-will are now designated as threatened, urbanization contributing to their diminishing numbers. We certainly don't need to exacerbate the environmental threat to wildlife so carelessly.
Injury: Emergency Departments and Fire Departments prepare for an influx in the weeks leading up to our holidays. Hand burn and eye injuries are the most common reported injuries, adolescents experience the greatest prevalence of injury. This uncontrolled use of fireworks creates a needless diversion of front line health and safety resources.
It's time for us to be more responsible with fireworks — for the sake of our pets, our parklands, our wildlife, and one another.
Etobicoke Fireworks Remediation Committee
Alupo, C (2017). Canine PTSD: An inquiry study on psychological trauma in dogs. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health.
Canner, J.K., Haider, A.H., Selvarajah, S., et al. (2014). US emergency department visits for fireworks injuries, 2006-2010. Journal of Surgical Research, 190(1): 305–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jss.2014.03.066 PMID:24766725.
Hickey, C., Gordon, C., Galdanes, K. et al. (2020). Toxicity of particles emitted by fireworks. Part Fibre Toxicol 17, 28. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12989-020-00360-4
Lin, C. (2016). A review of the impact of fireworks on particulate matter in ambient air. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 66(12), 1171-1182. DOI: 10.1080/10962247.2016.1219280
Shamoun-Baranes, J., Dokter, A. M., van Gasteren, H., et al. (2011). Birds flee en mass from New Year’s Eve fireworks. Behavioral Ecology, 22(6), 1173–1177. https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arr102
Sijimol, M.R., Mohan, M. (2014). Environmental impacts of perchlorate with special reference to fireworks—a review. Environ Monit Assess, 186, 7203–7210. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-014-3921-4
How it will be delivered
In person and/or email (tbc).