Today’s Poll

Backyard burning blazes through council

Nelson Daily Editor
By Nelson Daily Editor
October 7th, 2010

By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily

The heated debate over allowing a limited and once-only period for the burning of woody waste materials from Nelson backyards has been doused.

The ‘yeas’ won out over the ‘nays’ in City council chambers as the wheels of municipal government nearly ground to a halt over the issue.

When the tabled subject of burning was placed on the front burner Monday night in the regular meeting of council, the split was even over those councilors in favour of a fall period (Oct. 5-25) of backyard burning.

Coun. Deb Kozak said allowing the period of burning this one time — for the first time in six years since council instituted a no-backyard burning policy — would mean the topic inevitably comes back to council’s table next year.

“Yes, I know the regional district allows backyard burning, but I don’t think adding our smoke to the air helps the situation,” she said. “I just see this as a backwards step, there are other ways for us to do fuel mitigation.”

“But maybe this is a short-term fix,” said Mayor John Dooley.

“I definitely see this as a one-time, pilot project, for lack of a better term, based on what has been happening with the fuel modification in the surrounding areas,” said Nelson Fire Rescue chief Simon Grypma.

The motion passed with a narrow four-to-three vote.

The Ministry of the Environment has stated the city has a relatively poor air quality index, and pointed out allowing people to burn yard waste could add to the problem. However, backyard burning is permitted all year in outlying rural areas.

Coun. Kozak was disappointed council had not found a way to assist homeowners with their backyard waste with any other method than allowing burning to take place.

The issue has smouldered in council chambers for some time. In April of 2009 city council chose not to allow burning that fall, but the City’s fire chief was asked to review the issue to allow a period of burning for the fall of 2010.

Under the Fire Regulation and Prevention Bylaw, a yard waste burning period can be instituted by city council.

Nelson Fire Rescue chief Simon Grypma said the Community Fire Smart Outreach program found a majority of the people surveyed were in favour of some form of backyard burning.

He said during the Wild Land Fuel Modification program there was community wide support for removal, chipping and burning of woody debris, particularly on properties with steep slopes and limited access.

People who now wish to carry out yard waste burning would be required to apply for a special burn permit and follow strict guidelines for burning. A fee of $25 per day would be charged for each permit.

An inspection of the property by the Nelson Fire Rescue would be required to ensure compliance of the special permit prior to issuance of the permit.

The burning permit period and guidelines for the application of the special burn permit will be advertised on the City’s website.


The burning question …

Special burn permits will be issued at the Nelson Fire Station (919 Ward St.).

The special burning permit will be issued for the burning of woody debris best described as tree branches and dried brush similar to a campfire and no larger than the size of a wheel barrel. 

Yard waste such as grass clipping, leaves and garden waste will not be allowed to burn.   This material should be composted or removed to the Nelson transfer station.

The intent of the burning permit is to allow homeowners to reduce the threat of wildfire on their property, similar to the City controlled burning that was done in the forested area above the cemetery and the Five Mile pipeline. 

Any violation of the burn permit may result in a fine of $200 for the first offence and $400 for the second offence. 

Prior to issuing a permit, the Ministry of Environment venting index requirement will be consulted. The fire department will also review burn permits if conditions adversely affect adjacent neighbors to the property that has been issued a special burn permit.

Source: Nelson Fire Rescue

Categories: General


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