Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay council plan to reduce fireworks setting off dates, sales sparks distributor's frustration

Proposed changes to Thunder Bay's fireworks bylaw have one distributor frustrated with the idea of reducing the number of dates for the public to set off their displays.

Proposal targets Victoria Day, Labour Day among days no longer allowing fireworks shows

Bob Hoffman, owner of Fireworks Unlimited, says eliminating Labour Day from a list of dates where he can sell fireworks will have a big impact on his business. (Kris Ketonen/CBC)

Proposed changes to Thunder Bay's fireworks bylaw have a distributor frustrated with the idea of reducing the number of dates for the public to set off their displays.

On Monday night, city council started the process of rewriting the rules on when firecrackers can be sold and set off.

Currently, they're allowed to get set off on seven holidays (along with the preceding week for sales): Victoria Day, Canada Day, the August Civic Holiday, Labour Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day and the Lunar New Year.

Under the proposed regulations, setting off fireworks in the northwestern Ontario city would no longer be allowed on Victoria Day and Labour Day, and New Year's Eve would be a "named day." However, New Year's Eve, because of its proximity to New Year's Day, would still be allowed.

"Labour Day is I think the one where people are going to be upset," said Bob Hoffman, owner of Fireworks Unlimited.

"They're going to close their camps down, they're not even inside the city, so we're not going to be able to sell for that date. I think they're going to have some pushback on that." 

Hoffman is frustrated the number of sales dates may be reduced, noting he doesn't bother to set up his truck and trailer for sales for the Lunar New Year.

He said he has sold "only a couple" of fireworks for that holiday, and will feel the date reduction in his sales.

Pandemic blamed for noise

As for the rationale that fireworks are causing noise issues, particularly when set off late at night, Hoffman said he believes the issue is actually related to COVID-19.

"July 1, I think that's when they had most of the problem, because they didn't have their big celebration last year for July 1 at the marina, so, more people did them in their backyard," he said.

"So, of course during COVID, you're going to have more fireworks going on, but you can't leave your house. I think that's a big part of this, which should go away when COVID is solved."

The new bylaw would also come with heavier fines levied against those who set off fireworks outside permitted dates.

The challenge to that, Hoffman said, is catching people who set them off. He said that when customers purchase fireworks from his business, he informs them of local bylaws.


Jeff Walters


Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.