Fireworks ban passes with flying colors

Fireworks will be banned in Langley, starting a year from now.

In a 4-1 vote, members of Langley City Council adopted the pyrotechnics prohibition at the Monday meeting.

Council Member Thomas Gill made a last-ditch effort to convince his fellow council members to not outright ban fireworks but to keep a list of fireworks he deemed to be quieter and less hazardous.

In a presentation to the council, Gill said that the fireworks on the list, which included sparklers and smoke bombs, do not make loud booms, therefore rendering them less disturbing.

Council members Craig Cyr and Dominique Emerson, who have both been longtime supporters of a ban, argued that a “long set of permissibles” would be confusing to residents and visitors alike, as opposed to a widespread ban that would cover all bases.

Several citizens present spoke about the terror of fireworks and having to leave their homes during the Fourth of July to return home the next day and find fireworks still happening in the city.

Resident Walt Blackburn called anything less than a ban “needlessly complicated.”

Ursula Shoudy, a former council member, was the only citizen present to speak in opposition to the ban.

She said the ban would grant citizens a “false sense of security,” as noise from fireworks across the water would still be occurring on July 4.

She added that the South End police force has many other important calls to respond to during the holiday — including DUIs and domestic disputes — and requiring officers to also respond to calls about fireworks would be “selfish.”

Langley Police Chief Don Lauer agreed the police department responds to many calls involving these issues over the holiday, including in the greater county area. He said calls about fireworks would be a lesser priority, meaning in some cases the police officers wouldn’t even be able to respond to them.

Shoudy also added that she believed the city council ordinance readings could have been better advertised. She admitted perhaps her own judgment of the public’s sentiments could be “off base,” but that ultimately opposers of the ban should have been given the same invitation as supporters.

“I think those of us who had different opinions could have been equally invited,” Shoudy said, pointing to Cyr’s Facebook posts about the city council meetings.

Cyr said he could not remember exactly what was written in the Facebook posts, as he had trouble finding them.

Council members agreed the advertisement of the meetings through social media and in the South Whidbey Record should have been enough to notify people.

Gill responded, saying he believed many people do not have a Facebook account or a Record subscription. He suggested the notice of the meeting could have been included with a water bill.

In the end, the second reading of the ordinance passed, making it the new law for Langley. Because it takes a year for the new ordinance to go into effect, this year’s Fourth of July will be the last chance for Langley citizens to set off fireworks.

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