Burning will resume on Cornwall Centre Road; landowner following the law, says fire chief

Several slash piles burn along Cornwall Centre Road in South Stormont, Ont. Friday, Sept. 21, 2017. The township fire chief says the landowner is following the law. The smoke has been wafting into the City of Cornwall drawing a number of complaints from residents. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

SOUTH STORMONT/CORNWALL – Residents are going to have to endure more days of smelling smoke in the air as a property owner continues to clear his land northwest of the city.

In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch Friday, South Stormont Fire Chief Gilles Crepeau said the landowner agreed to stop burning over the weekend given the poor air quality with the recent heat spell.

But the burning will resume sometime in the next few days.

“He’s not doing anything that I can control. Being zoned agricultural, he is working his land, obviously to grow crops, and he is burning within the bylaw. It’s just unfortunate that the wind is blowing toward the City of Cornwall,” Crepeau said.

The only exception where the fire chief can step in is if there’s “an immediate threat to life or property.”

The landowner has hired an experienced contractor to do the work and “they are doing everything properly as far as the bylaw goes in South Stormont,” Crepeau added.

“He is going to work with us,” the fire chief said. “Unfortunately the burning is going to keep going for a bit because he’s trying to clear his land.”

Crepeau has visited the site and, contrary to rumours on social media, only tree brush is being burned on site – no plastic and no tires.

The bylaw enforcement officer and the fire prevention officer have also visited the site, Crepeau explained.

Asked if there have been complaints, Crepeau said he received “some complaints” including a call from the Ontario Ministry of Environment after the ministry received calls from some people in the City of Cornwall.

“I updated her (the MOE official) on what we were doing and she was okay with it,” Crepeau said.

As for the landowner, “he’s working with us. He’s not trying to be anything else but a good neighbour.”