VANCOUVER, Wash. – Fireworks lighting up the night sky above Vancouver neighborhoods is a longstanding tradition that residents are not ready to give up. They packed the room at the Vancouver City Council meeting Monday night and clapped their approval as a plan to restrict fireworks was voted down.
The Vancouver city council voted 6 to 1 to reject an ordinance that would have banned all but “safe and sane” fireworks. They also nixed a proposal for seven days of sales and two days of use.
The room was packed with opponents who ranged in age from children to senior citizens. The majority asked city council members to not ban their traditional 4th of July fireworks.
"Council members clearly heard those at the hearing," said Barbara Ayers, City of Vancouver spokeswoman. " Testimony had a significant impact on the council vote."
The restrictions would have outlawed mortars, Roman candles and the like for the 2013 Independence Day holiday and beyond. With the Monday night vote, there will be no changes for 2013 and 2014. The council decided to talk about possible 2015 restrictions later this Fall.
It was a hot-button issue that has drawn strong public comment, both for and against. Some neighbors are tired of the noise, pollution and safety risks the airborne and exploding fireworks can bring. Community service groups that rely on fireworks sales were concerned about lost revenues.
“It’s pretty impacting; I don’t know of any other program where we could just take $35,000 out of thin air, to do what we do,” said Skip Barnes, who is a Vancouver Elks Lodge member.
The Elks support youth athletic programs and other community services.
Portland fire officials had applauded the possibility Vancouver would ban the more extreme fireworks, from a safety perspective.
“I’ve responded on house fires, I’ve responded on people who’ve blown their fingers off - it’s not a pretty sight,” said firefighter Ron Rouse of Portland Fire & Rescue. “And so I’m going to say the firefighters hope, they’re going to join Portland.”
If the Vancouver City Council had banned high flying fireworks, they still could have been purchased and used in Clark County.