Township moves closer to adoption of open air burning regulation
South Glengarry council – following consultation with the township’s fire department and the farming community – is moving closer to passing a new “open air burning” bylaw that would replace an existing ordinance passed in May, 2002.
“This bylaw looks at recreational burns, event burns, agricultural and clearing of land burns,” said South Glengarry Fire Chief Vic Leroux at a recent council meeting. The new policy gives the fire department the authority to investigate, approve or rescind a burn permit.
“This is something standard across the province. We’re seeing a lot of these burn bylaws being resurrected in many municipalities,” he said.
Chief Leroux, who referred to the current bylaw as “outdated,” pointed out that his department had “listened to the requests” of the township’s agricultural committee and “not incorporated a burn safety plan,” which he noted “some municipalities require from farmers.”
Other issues that the proposed bylaw addresses include: allowing for the burning of higher debris piles, the elimination of windrows from burning-eligible materials, and the prohibition of the burning of straw and corn stalks, a practice which causes “smoke issues across our township,” said Chief Leroux.
He has included an important, new component to the revised municipal statute.
“During our consultations with the agricultural committee, I brought forward the inclusion, through the administration process, of the Farm Business Registration number for the (burn permit) application,” the chief explained.
“I’ve had experience with open burns in my first six months in this position, and some of these applications were fraudulent, where the applicants were saying that they were farmers when they weren’t. So this way, it eliminates the ‘ wannabe’ farmers looking to burn as often, and as much, as they want.”
All farm businesses in Ontario that declare gross income of $7,000 or more annually are required under the Farm Registration and Farm Organizations Funding Act of 1993 to register their farm business with Agricorp, a provincial Crown agency that delivers risk management programs and other services to Ontario's agri- culture industry.
Chief Leroux also explained that burn permit applications are typically approved within a 24-hour to 48-hour window, and that the new bylaw will not impact that time frame.
“Approvals are based on the nature of the request, but sometimes a farmer is looking to burn that day because things are ideal,” he said. “If I’m notified, and I’m satisfied with the conditions, he can burn that day.”
Councillor Lyle Warden commended Chief Leroux for his “good work,” adding that the proposed bylaw was “much more thorough” than its predecessor, while Councillor Joyce Gravelle said she was “certainly happy” with the proposed ordinance.
Mayor Ian McLeod was also pleased with Chief Leroux’s efforts.
However, he pointed out that the bylaw was only receiving a first and second reading at the recent council meeting, and recommended further consultation with the agricultural committee before the bylaw is read for a third and final time at an upcoming council session.
Fire chief says current policy is “outdated”
CLEAN- UP: Burning is an effective way to clean up debris, however, mounds can smoulder for days.