TVRA lights discussion on fireworks

With a little more than a month to go before Guy Fawkes, the newly elected executive committee (exco) of the Table View Ratepayers’ Association (TVRA) has made the long-standing issue of fireworks in the Table View area a top priority.

A survey on the TVRA Facebook page asked members if they were for or against fireworks on the beachfront. The list of options in the survey included: “No”; “No fireworks anywhere. Consider the effects of fireworks on pets”; “Yes”; “Only at stadiums – R35 entry fee for all (baby or grandpa). Takings shared to registered NPO animal Welfares and shelters”; “No fireworks anywhere”; “Fireworks show at show grounds or beach only. To be done as a show by registered/ competent entity”; “Don’t care”, and “Yes for religious reasons”.

Most people (179) ticked the “No” box with the second most votes (108) going to “No fireworks anywhere.” Only 38 ticked the “Yes” option.

Fireworks in Table View has been a contentious issue for a long time, dividing those who are for it and those who oppose it. Last year, Tabletalk reported on the infamous fire that swept through Rietvlei and that most suspected was sparked by fireworks (“Fury in fireworks aftermath,” November 11, 2015).

At the TVRA’s information session on Thursday evening, vice chairperson George Zaverdinos, asked those at the meeting what their stance was on the “emotional subject” and invited them to ask questions.

TVRA exco member Roy Fuller-Gee said he would support the fireworks if they were managed as a professional event such as the fireworks show at the V&A Waterfront.

“But the way it has become, it’s a free for all and we are encouraging people to break the law in terms of gunpowder licences,” said Mr Fuller-Gee.

He also said that if fireworks were allowed on the beachfront for Guy Fawkes then they should also be allowed for other events such as New Year’s Day and Diwali.

“If it’s allowed for one event, it should be allowed for another,” he said.

Mr Zaverdinos said fireworks brought with them noise pollution, air pollution as well as the risk of fire.

He said there was no question fireworks harmed pets and that because fireworks happened so infrequently, pets were not used to them.

“There are wildlife issues as well. Birds of a certain species frightened by the noise of the fireworks fly off in the direction of the ocean and they drown according to the experts,” he said.

Ward 107 councillor Nicky Rheeder said she has been doing site visits in her ward with the Milnerton fire station commander and they had been unable to find a safe place to discharge fireworks.

“I cannot seek sites that are not in my ward and I have looked for alternatives in Ward 107 but there is no alternative site,’ said Ms Rheeder.

According to guidelines governing site selection, no persons may use fireworks: within 500 metres of any airport, explosives manufacturing work place, petroleum depot, gasometer, hospital or old age home; within 500 meters of a police station; and in any building or public thoroughfare.

Someone in the meeting asked whether suitable sites would not be available further up the coast, but Ms Rheeder said there was a fire hazard due to the fynbos up the coast.

Another speaker on the fireworks subject was Gayl Basson from the animal shelter, Fallen Angels in Melkbosstrand.

Ms Basson said she would like the area to be put on the map for banning fireworks altogether.

She said although fireworks were allowed around three nights a year, they put the animal shelter back by months.

“Sometimes fireworks go on for weeks before and after celebrations. It provokes a fight or flight response in animals and they sustain the worst injuries which are self-inflicted when they try to escape,” said Ms Basson.

She said most people in Table View get medication for their animals, which she applauded.

She said people also injure animals with fireworks and gave a few examples of what she has seen first hand.

She referred to case where people had put fireworks in a dog’s mouth and forced it closed. The dog’s jaw was blown off.

Ms Rheeder said she would ask the City of Cape Town to put a pause on the fireworks matter until Sub-council resumes.