Allan Stuckless holds up fireworks that were not used after he received a $610 ticket from police at a community gathering in Scarborough. (DAVE THOMAS, Toronto Sun)
TORONTO - Residents on a Scarborough street are blaming Toronto Police for fizzling their fireworks.
For six years, neighbours on Randall Cres. have thrown a community Labour Day barbecue — complete with fireworks — at the Anson Park baseball diamond, in the Brimley Rd. and St. Clair Ave. area.
On Sunday night around 9 p.m., the party was abruptly halted when two officers, witnesses said, floored their cruiser across the park with sirens blaring and lights flashing towards a crowd of 150 adults and kids.
“They flew towards us ... which upset me because I had a bunch of young nieces and nephews watching the fireworks,” said Allan Stuckless, 47, who was ticketed after he presented his identification to officers. “Isn’t this big, bad Scarborough? You don’t have better things to do?”
Stuckless was told to shut down the fireworks and was handed a $610 ticket. He’s accused under Toronto’s municipal code of “discharging family fireworks without permit on a day other than Canada Day or Victoria Day (or other day for which permit not required).”
“Last year, police sat in the parking lot and shone their lights on the baseball diamond to help me light them off,” Stuckless said. “One officer went up to us and his exact words were, ‘Don’t leave a mess.’ If he had asked if I had a permit, I would’ve had one for this year.”
However, Const. Tony Vella said the officers were on patrol when they saw the fireworks display and could have ticketed people for more.
“She (the officer) noticed people were drinking alcohol and lighting fireworks off. There weren’t any fire extinguishers there in case someone got hurt,” he said. “The officer could’ve laid a number of charges for the liquor licence or trespass property, as well as fireworks. She issued one bylaw to him instead of all the individuals.”
Vella added the officer was “being very reasonable” and noted the main issue was public safety.
“I know they’ve done it for the past six years, yes, but our concern is public safety and we want to ensure things go well,” he said.
But residents called the officers’ reaction as “excessive,” claiming they did have a fire extinguisher, and said a warning would have made more sense — especially when setting off fireworks in an open area was “safer” than in their backyards which have overhanging tree branches.
“Everybody in park the booed (the officers),” said neighbour Bill Slattery, 62. “All the little kids were booing their heads off. This is something they’ll remember. This bash is a good thing.”