On Monday night there was a ‘Public Meeting/Information Session’ to review Outdoor Wood Burning in Orangeville. There was a decent turnout for the session, i would say around 60 or more residents attended. The ‘Open Air Burning Committee’ has put together a draft of a by-law recommendation that they will forward to Council for approval in the upcoming month or so. If you have any comments, suggestions, changes or recommendations that you would like to see addressed before it goes to Council, please email jwilson@orangeville.ca, sbradley@orangeville.ca or sgreatrix@orangeville.ca (I would recommend getting these comments in by the end of May before the committee meets again at the beginning of June).

Here are the proposed changes to the by-law in a nutshell (minus all of the legal mumbo-jumbo)

No Multi-Unit Dwelling or Townhouses will be permitted to burn wood In order to qualify for a permit, the fire must be at least:

75 m (250 ft) from a sensitive receptor (I will define that later)

7.5m (25 ft) from the property line

5.0m (16 ft) from a forest area

3.0m (10 ft) from a dwelling & attached structures i.e. decks

2.0m (6.5 ft) from any flammable material

a safe distance, as determined by the Fire Official, from the following: structures, shed, canopy, hedge, fence, roadway, overhead wire, or obstruction A change to the Burn Permit fee from $20/yr to $40/yr

The hours allowing burning would change from 9am-midnight to 3pm-11pm

Also, they have proposed an “Incentive Program” where anyone who converts from wood to propane or gas burning could receive a $50 incentive from the Town of Orangeville for doing so.

Sensitive Receptor Definition (as written in the proposed by-law):

“Sensitive Receptor” shall include a childcare facility, healthcare facility, senior citizen’s residence, long-term care facility, educational facility, municipally owned property or other place where smoke may be a greater risk to the health of a group or individual, or to the environment.

There are currently 60 addresses listed on the ‘Standing Sensitive Receptors’ List which include every Childcare Facility, Church, County building, Town facility (which includes all Town Parks & Trails, School, Senior’s Residence, and the Hospital. Anyone who wishes to register to be listed as a Sensitive Receptor, will be able to do so by simply filling out a registry application annually at Town Hall if this proposed by-law passes.

The Reality of This Proposed By-Law

So here is the math of it all – By mandating that the fire be 25 feet away from your property line (in every direction) and a minimum of 10 feet from your house, AND 250 feet away from a “Sensitive Receptor” (this refers to the full radius surrounding these locations) , essentially they are preventing somewhere in the neighbourhood of 80% (or more) of homes in Orangeville from qualifying for a fire permit without actually “BANNING” outdoor wood burning…

My Humble Opinions…

According to the new Fire Chief, Ron Morden, there were approximately 400 fire permits issued in 2015. So, just for fun, let’s assume that every permit holder had 3 fires throughout the year – I’d say that’s probably a fair number – So, let’s say there were 1200 fires (by permit holders…and probably another 1000 or more by people without permits…)

Here’s where the fun comes…..out of all of these fires that were enjoyed by families all over Orangeville, there were 12 complaints. Yup…12.

So, can someone please explain to me why this is even an issue right now?? Throughout budget talks in The Town of Orangeville, I personally received hundreds of comments on my blog, personal messages and emails from residents with complaints or concerns about our ever-growing taxes…and yet, we saw another increase…but 12 people complain in one year about backyard fires and we form a committee to look at the by-law?!?!? Where are our priorities?!

All of the fire permits I have gotten over the years have come with the understanding that your permit can be revoked at anytime if you get excessive complaints from neighbours or if you burn prohibited items. This fact alone leads me to believe that the issues aren’t with permit holders because according to the Fire Chief, the number of permits that were revoked last year is Zero….

I am definitely sympathetic to those who have medical conditions that are worsened by wood smoke and if you are one of those people who have a neighbour who is disrespectful to that despite your attempts to have a rational, adult, neighborly conversation with them, my suggestion would be to discuss the revocation of their permit with the Fire Chief…and if they are burning without a permit, the Fire Chief should be looking at giving a fine. I would hope that the majority of people could be amicable enough to come up with some sort of compromise, but if that really isn’t your case, I believe that your complaint should have merit when speaking with the fire authorities.

My biggest concern with this proposal is that it would really alienate the masses unnecessarily.

Your Humble Opinions

Please share your opinions on this hot topic with me…whether you are for or against it, I would love to know why! Were you at the meeting? What did you think? And please, please, please use the email addresses I have listed at the start of this post to make sure your opinion is heard by the committee before this goes to council.

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