'Fires still get lit (even though) they’re illegal': Grand Valley looks to regulate backyard campfires

·2 min read

People are going to have campfires, even if it’s not legal.

That’s a large part of the reason members of Grand Valley council are discussing the implementation of a bylaw and permitting system to allow open fires in urban parts of town.

Mayor Steve Soloman noted he regularly sees people having campfires when there’s warmer weather as well.

“I can look out my window on a Saturday night and see five fires,” he said. “And I don’t hear any complaints.”

One reason the idea of having a permit system appealed to council over attempting to outlaw it is that it would give the town an ability to regulate fires for safety and environmental reasons.

“They exist right now, and everybody who lives in town has admitted fires still get lit (even though) they’re illegal,” said Deputy Mayor Philip Rentsch. “I’m a fan of regulating instead of banning.”

Prior to the Nov. 10 council meeting, a petition with 50 signatures from residents requesting the legalization of backyard campfires was received at the town.

A major item to include in regulations would be what materials residents would be allowed to burn.

The initial proposal from staff suggested preparing a list of prohibited materials. Those lists, however, can become quite long and often hard to track all inappropriate options.

“I think it would save a lot of paper and ink to come up with the things you’re allowed to burn,” said Coun. Stephen Miles.

He added that especially since the bylaw would be written for an urban/rural area, the number of things you could burn due to the environmental impact and effects it would have on neighbours would be extremely limited.

“It would help a lot to be specific in what you can burn rather than the hundreds of things you can’t burn,” said Miles.

Coun. Elizabeth Taylor shared that last summer a neighbour was burning something that would have affected anyone with asthma.

Members of council agreed that however they choose to proceed, the public should be given the opportunity to provide input on whether it should be allowed and what should be included.

“Some people will be for it, some people will be against it, but it never hurts to ask,” Rentsch said.

Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner