The Town of Canmore will have a new fire bylaw soon and one that clearly specifies requirements for outdoor fire pits and fireplaces.
The new bylaw, which will replace one from 2002, was presented in draft form to council last week at its committee of the whole meeting.
“Administration is currently reviewing and updating bylaws that are more than 10 years old, so it falls into that,” said manager of protective services Greg Burt. “The proposed bylaw remains substantively the same with the addition of sections related to outdoor fires, fire bans and it also removes a lot of administrative pieces.”
Burt said the update aims to clean up the bylaw, make it workable, readable and enforceable.
Currently, residents and visitors who want to have an outdoor fire pit are not required to obtain a permit and that will remain the same. However, fire pits and outdoor fireplaces will have to be built to a certain standard.
Outdoor fire pits must be at least two metres, measured from the nearest edge of the fire pit, from any building or combustible material; the sides must be fully enclosed of non-combustible material; it must be set upon or built into the ground or on top of non-combustible material; it cannot be located directly under any tree or overhanging branches; and the opening must be no more than one metre across and no more than 60 centimetres above the surface grade. Fires are not permitted between 1 a.m. and 10 a.m. except in dedicated campgrounds, which can have fires as early as 6 a.m.
A motion by Councillor Jim Ridley added that only persons over the age of 14 could be left in charge of a fire.
The bylaw also contains a list of what cannot be burned: treated or painted lumber; lumber products containing glue or resins; wet wood; leaves, brush or yard waste; garbage; and rubber, tires or plastic. Burt said the idea is that people only burn clean dry firewood.
“It might be better to have a list of what you can burn, since you cannot list everything you can’t burn,” noted Coun. Hans Helder.
The new bylaw would give the fire chief the authority to enact a fire ban within Town limits, which didn’t exist in the old bylaw. Fines for breaking a fire ban are proposed to be $1,000 and $250 for breaching other requirements of the bylaw related to fire pits and outdoor fireplaces.
However, the bylaw also contains language that would see fines of $600 or $2,000 for those caught interfering with duties or equipment of the local fire department.
Finally, the bylaw gives the Town authority to make property owners financially liable for expenses or costs related to putting out fires. Burt said the wording does not require the municipality to charge for every response, however, it needs to be included in the bylaw for it to be an option in the future.