No burning desire for backyard fire permits

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – Two weeks into accepting applications for backyard fires, numbers suggest there’s no immediate burning desire for burning in the city.

Fire Chief Jeff Weber was asked about it at Monday night’s council meeting as city council passed the new open air burning bylaw, putting the new rules into effect as of Monday night.

The new bylaw regulates the burning season, the size of fires and property setbacks.

“Has there been a rush for permits?” Coun. Claude McIntosh asked. The city started accepting applications Sept. 1.

“We have approximately 15 applications for a permit,” Weber answered.

“We have 15 applications for open burn fires? That’s it?” Coun. Claude McIntosh exclaimed. “Wow, okay, I can just surmise that a lot of people are burning without permits,” the councilman chuckled.

Weber agreed with McIntosh that the number was “a little low.”

According to the city, there are 27 per cent of households of just over 4,000 properties that would be eligible to apply for a permit under the new rules.

While the law has been passed, Weber told council they are “in the throes” of putting the fine structure together with the Provincial Offences Act court. According to the city website, the minimum cost for the municipality to put out a nuisance fire is $459.

Coun. Dean Hollingsworth suggested it would be good to bill homeowners who have illegal backyard fires for the time and resources of the fire department. Weber says the new fee and fine structure would address this.

Cost recovery would be added to the property owners municipal taxes with an interest rate of 15 per cent starting on the day of the infraction. The fine would be registered as a lien against the property. Fining a homeowner would be at the discretion of the fire department.