Regulated backyard campfires may soon be permitted in the Village of Ashcroft, following a council vote to amend the bylaw this week.
Council voted unanimously Monday to direct staff to amend the Outdoor Burning Bylaw No. 811, 2017 to allow regulated campfires, after public engagement indicated residents supported the move.
Two public meetings were held Oct. 14 – in the afternoon and evening – to share information about the proposed change and gauge feedback from the public.
Chief Administrative Officer Daniela Dyck said a total of 37 people attended the meetings and most of the feedback was in support of the move.
“The majority of the comments received at the meeting were in favour of regulated campfires, alternately, some felt common sense should prevail and no regulations were required, some cautioned impacts to the neighbourhood if items other than firewoods burned, and some didn’t want to see any changes to the existing bylaw,” Dyck said.
The public meetings followed a survey distributed to residents earlier in the year to gather feedback about possible changes to the outdoor burning bylaw.
The survey, which received 375 responses, showed 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.
Prior to voting Monday night, Coun. Nadine Davenport pointed out the village would also be making a point of raising “fire smart” awareness among residents and their properties.
“That’s an important part of moving forward on this,” Davenport said.
In preparation for the proposed bylaw changes, Village staff also reached out to the Village of Cache Creek for feedback on its experience with campfire allowances.
Cache Creek village staff and Cache Creek Fire Chief Tom Moe both responded positively, according to a staff report, noting few complaints from residences and an overall high level of responsibility shown by residents having backyard campfires.
Among the considerations outlined in the staff report for council to consider are climate change, property insurance and air quality and impacts to health, mental health impacts for residents experiencing wildfire-related anxiety.
The positives of allowing backyard campfires detailed in the report include “togetherness,” a safe place to socialize with friends and family and something to “remind us of a simpler time in our lives.”