Draft bylaw on open-air burning draws 60 to town hall meeting

May 19, 2016   ·   1 Comments

A burning question facing Orangeville’s 30,000 residents: which is more important, the backyard barbecue or the quality of the air they breathe?

Or, as Councillor Sylvia Bradley puts it, “Is it more important to have a backyard fire or is it more important for people to breathe?”

The issue brought about 60 of the town’s residents out Monday night to a town hall meeting called to get input on a draft bylaw designed to replace the Town’s existing bylaw regulating outdoor fires.

Pleased at the “pretty good turnout,” Councillor Bradley, chair of Orangeville Council’s Outdoor Burning Committee, says the main problem is that thus far many of the useful observations haven’t been codified. The meeting itself wasn’t recorded, and the committee is giving residents until June 13 to submit written comments on paper or by email.

On June 15 the committee will meet to discuss the issue and prepare a report to Council. “At that point we’ll be getting their comments. We’ll not be voting,” Ms. Bradley said.

Asked about the possibility of achieving a consensus, the committee chair compared the issue with that Council faced a couple of years ago in drafting a bylaw that outlawed  pesticides.

The committee has been dealing with the issue since last October and has prepared a draft bylaw, copies of which were available for Monday’s public meeting.

As currently drafted, the proposed  Open Air Burning By-Law would “prescribe the type of fires, time during which fires may be set, and the precautions to be observed by the person(s) setting fires in the open air; and the requirements and fees for fire permits.”

Its purpose: “to promote public health, safety and protect the welfare of the inhabitants of the municipality from air pollution, nuisances and fire hazards associated with open air burning.”

A section on the bylaw’s applicability states that it does not apply to: grilling or cooking using charcoal, wood pellets, propane or natural gas in cooking or grilling appliances; use of propane, acetylene, natural gas, gasoline in a device intended for heating, construction or maintenance activities; structures that may be burned exclusively for fire suppression training or testing of firefighting equipment; burning of materials for law enforcement activities as authorized by the municipal authority or other law enforcement authority; or burning of explosive or dangerous material by police or other public safety organization, for which there is no other safe means of disposal.

The proposed bylaw would include a general prohibition on open-air burning at any multiple-unit dwelling or townhouse, and any burning elsewhere “without permission in writing first being obtained from the Chief Fire Official and then only subject to such terms and conditions as are stated in the permission.”

As well, the Chief Fire Official “may declare a total ban against outdoor burning when atmospheric conditions or local circumstances make such fires hazardous.  The public shall be notified that a fire ban is in effect on the Town website www. and posters advertising the ban will be posted at the Town offices.”

No open air burning would be permitted “during periods of dry conditions or drought or when a local fire ban has been declared,” and no materials could be burned “upon any street, curb, gutter or sidewalk or on the ice of a body of water unless permitted by the Chief Fire Official.”

Any burning would be limited to an “outdoor fireplace unit,” and no person conducting open-air burning shall create an adverse effect.”

Beyond that, the bylaw would ban any outdoor burning of waste materials apart from “woodwaste that is clean dry wood and suitable for burning in the outdoor fireplace.”

The bylaw as drafted sets out procedures to be followed in obtaining a fire permit and minimum distances fire pits must be from a “sensitive receptor,” property line or forested area.

Additionally, open air burning “shall be constantly attended and supervised by a competent person of at least eighteen (18) years of age to ensure that the fire is kept under control and until the fire is extinguished and the ashes and other residues are cold,” and that “shall have readily available for use such fire extinguishing equipment as may be necessary for the total control of the fire.”

“Clean air, that’s what this is all about,” Councillor Bradley said Wednesday, adding that while there had only been about 12 complaints to the fire department, “all kinds of people won’t complain because they don’t want to get involved.”

Readers Comments (1)

  1. tj says:

    Having read the draft proposal in its entirety I thought I’d add this in case helpful:

    Backyard CSA approved barbecues as they are typically known to residents (using nat-gas or charcoal briquettes), are not affected by the proposed bylaw.

    Masonry backyard fireplaces and other CSA approved backyard fireplace devices, are still allowed assuming they meet the other criteria spelled out in the bylaw.

    Anyone who is interested in the actual policy can pick up a copy of the proposed bylaw at the Town of Orangeville, Clerk’s desk at 87 Broadway during business hours.


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