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No changes to Mission backyard fire pit permits

Mission residents will still be allowed to have backyard fire pits — with a permit — for cooking food, ceremonial purposes, and warmth. - Metro
Mission residents will still be allowed to have backyard fire pits — with a permit — for cooking food, ceremonial purposes, and warmth.
— image credit: Metro

Council defeated a Mission Fire/Rescue Service proposed restriction on backyard fire pits Tuesday evening which leaves the burning bylaw intact.

Proposed was an amendment to the bylaw that would have seen fire pits banned within the residential garbage pickup area.

Assistant fire chief Larry Watkinson told council the fire department receives about five complaints per week about fire pits, and the staff time it takes to deal with complaints, air quality issues, and other concerns can be costly.

But Coun. Jenny Stevens said the change infringed too much on personal liberties.

"Can't we just live and let live?"

Coun. Tony Luck, who also voted against the amendment, said Missionites should consider themselves fortunate to still have the right to fire pits in their backyards, pointing out many municipalities have already banned the practice. But, he cautioned it's a matter of "abuse it and lose it."

Stevens argued the current bylaw already adequately deals with abuse, requiring pits to be constructed of non-combustible materials, located 15 feet from any flammable materials or building, only use dry wood to burn, have an adult present, stop the fire if neighbours complain of drifting smoke, ash, or unpleasant odour, among other rules.

The fire department currently requires a one-time registration for a fire pit of $20, though Watkinson acknowledged most people aren't aware of the fee and thus do not hand out fines on a first offence.

The amendment was defeated 3-2 with Mayor Ted Adlem and Coun. Jeff Jewell voting in favour. Couns. Nelson Tilbury and Dave Hensman were absent.

Staff were asked to come back with a report looking at potentially making annual $20 renewals, reviewing the current fine in the municipal ticketing system ($100), and other means of compensating for the financial burden put on the department in responding to calls.

That report is expected back by August.

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