Charlottetown committee asked to revisit apartment balcony barbecue ban

·2 min read

Charlottetown is taking a second look at its ban on barbecues on apartment decks.

Two city residents went before council's protective and emergency measures committee on Monday asking it to review the bylaw, and consider making an exception for electric grills.

The city's fire code currently prohibits all outdoor cooking equipment on an apartment balcony.

Deputy fire chief Tim Mamye of the Charlottetown Fire Department said in an interview Thursday the bylaw bans electric grills, which pose a slightly different risk than propane and natural gas barbecues.

"Well, they don't have the flaming aspect of it, for one thing, that a propane or natural gas grill would, but they do cause other issues or pose other issues such as the power source and how they are properly used in the exterior."

When it comes to multi-household dwellings involving more than one or two families, Mamye said outdoor gear is not allowed to be used for cooking, heating or any other purpose on a balcony, under an overhanging portion of a building or within 10 feet of a structure.

Fire on Harley Street

The city's ban on outdoor grills on apartment decks and balconies has been in place for years. Adopted from the National Fire Protection Association standards, Mamye said that code is based on previous experiences and issues in the past due to spread.

"The potential is always there with the heat and propane and any sort of power source to cause a fire and have it easily spread due to the proximity of other occupancies," he said.

But the city stepped up enforcement following a fire last July that destroyed an apartment building on Harley Street.

Samantha Juric/CBC
Samantha Juric/CBC

A barbecue did not cause the fire — which was linked to mulch — but the intense heat from the fire caused propane to be released from a barbecue tank on a deck, which added fuel to the fire.

Mamye said there has not been a lot of strong feedback from residents, other than the pair who asked the committee for guidance on how to request a change to the bylaw to allow for electric grills.

He said Coun. Kevin Ramsay, the city's acting chair, agreed to work with chief administrative officer Peter Kelly and the fire department to come up with a response.

The city can amend the code to lessen the fire safety, which would be rare, Mayme said.

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