The Village of Ashcroft will be consulting with the volunteer fire department on whether to implement a permit system if the village allows backyard campfires, following community survey results released last week.
Council directed staff to gather feedback from the fire department on what, if any, regulations and permits they would like to see in place for campfires. The decision followed a lengthy discussion at council’s committee of the whole meeting June 14 surrounding results from a recently completed outdoor burning bylaw survey.
The survey, which received 375 responses, showed that the majority of respondents do not want the village to allow yard or open-air burning at any time throughout the year. Regulated campfires, however, at a size of a half-metre by half-metre, were favoured by 70 per cent of respondents.
While staff had no recommendations for council, CAO Daniela Dyck did offer caution when it comes to consideration of open burning within the village.
“The province is moving towards a smoke-free environment,” she said. “There’s always a risk associated with fire, and our weather patterns have significantly changed over the past few years. There is a lot of anxiety in the community since 2017. Also, council needs to consider the health risks that are associated with wood burning and the aging demographic.”
Dyck noted that there is a small risk associated with campfires, but they are generally “a much safer environment” than open burning.
Mayor Barbara Roden made note of comments from community members who don’t have access to a truck to dispose of yard waste, but said for the most part “people are happy to help out.”
“We have numerous ways of disposing of grass clippings and leaves and branches,” Roden said. “There is no shortage of people who are happy to help out.”
Coun. Marilyn Anderson said that having smoke-filled air when residents are open burning doesn’t promote the village’s motto of “Wellness Awaits You.”
“In addition to the medical issues we have here like COPD, for young people who might be coming into our community that we are promoting as a place to be well, having toxins in the air doesn’t promote that,” she said.
Regulated campfires, however, are something council agreed could be allowed with a permit system, although staff noted there likely wouldn’t be time to get a resolution in place for this summer.
Once staff have had a chance to consult with the volunteer fire department, the bylaw will be brought back to a future committee of the whole meeting, Roden noted.