NORTH PERTH – Recently, especially throughout the pandemic, the North Perth Fire Department, bylaw enforcement staff and Perth County OPP have received and responded to increased calls and concerns related to backyard burning in residential areas, particularly in the spring and summer months.
Municipal staff has observed there is some confusion amongst the general public regarding rules relating to backyard burning and the procedure that must be followed when a complaint is made.
CAO Kriss Snell presented a report to council on May 17 to provide information on the specifications of the current burn bylaw, and clarify the steps required to register a bylaw complaint. A public education initiative is also planned. Further, fire department and bylaw staff plan to conduct a review of the current burn bylaw to determine where improvements or opportunities exist.
In regards to backyard burning in residential areas, the North Perth burn bylaw currently states:
No open burning shall be permitted;
Occupants of urban areas must use an approved containment site i.e. drum, truck or car rim;
The containment site must be a safe distance of approximately 25 feet from any building or combustible material;
Burning must be attended by a responsible person suited for the task.
Further, in urban areas, a person shall adhere to the following items for an approved waste burner contained fire:
Burning containers in good repair;
No burning on windy days;
No burning that contains rubber, plastics, household garbage or material that produces obnoxious odours to the surrounding neighbourhood or violates the requirements of the Ministry of Environment, Air Quality Branch or any other Provincial or Federal legislation;
Minimum of 20 litres or five gallons of water available near the site;
Recyclable material must not be burned;
No burning is allowed if smoke conflicts with any neighbours.
Complaints related to backyard burning should be reported at the time of the incident so that staff or the OPP can respond immediately.
The contact for complaints depends on the time of day that the burn is occurring. If the burn is occurring during regular municipal office hours, the complaint should be called to the North Perth Fire Department administration office. If the burn is occurring outside of regular municipal office hours, complaints should be reported to the OPP Non-Emergency Line at 1-888-310-1122 so that an officer can be dispatched.
This will ensure a timely response to the incident and allow the fire department/OPP to move forward with charges where necessary.
It is important to note that for the fire department or OPP to lay a charge under the bylaw, a victim must be identified.
Therefore, the complainant is required to provide their name to the authorities.
To increase understanding of backyard burning requirements and complaint reporting, a public education campaign is being planned. This will include the publishing and distribution of an information brochure which Snell included with his report.
“I do know in previous bylaws it was mentioned that the only burning permitted would be if food was involved, like of actually cooking food,” said Coun. Matt Richardson. “Am I missing something, in this report, it doesn’t make mention of that, has that been omitted?”
“That is still the case and is a requirement of the fire code from my understanding so it’s not delineated in the brochure,” said Snell. “I’ll check back with the fire department on that but that’s still a requirement, I believe, of the fire code and the bylaw… Great catch, councillor, and we’ll make sure that’s highlighted if not in the brochure at this time.”
Mayor Todd Kasenberg asked when the brochure would be available to the public.
Snell said they could have it out on social media very quickly.
“We are having discussions about how we distribute it to the bulk of our residents,” he said. “Looking at either distributing it through the mail or the flyer program.”
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner