Residents call for backyard fire ban over health concerns
Residents in North Kildonan, Wolseley sick of being smoked out in own homes
A North Kildonan man is calling for stricter rules for backyard fires because he says constant bonfires are putting his health at risk.
Richard Stefanec said he's constantly being smoked out by neighbours with fire pits.
"The smoke was so bad that I couldn’t breathe, and the whole yard was full of smoke," he said, recalling a recent bonfire his neighbours had. "I think I have a right to be able to open my windows at night without getting smoke coming into my house and reeking full of smoke."
Stefanec claims some of his neighbours burn illegal materials like leaves, and his family breathes them in. He said he's called his city councillor and the fire department to complain, but the problem hasn't gone away.
"It's a health problem," Stefanec said. "My wife starts getting a heart burn. It seeps into the house so you open your windows and you don't realize the smoke is coming in and when it's in there, it's already in the house."
Wolseley resident Donna Hainstock has also had problems with smoke in her neighbourhood.
"After 10 p.m., if we have our windows open to cool down, our house is considerably smoky," she said.
She said she considered buying a pit but decided against it because of the health risks.
"I found that smoke inhalation and just fire pits in general aren’t healthy," she said.
Another Wolseley resident, Ronald Bagshaw, would like to see backyard fires banned entirely.
"I think it’s a no-no and probably should be banned in general in the confines of the city," he said.
Right now, the city allows residents to have backyard fires during any hours of the day, as long as they are in sanctioned bins.
The city’s current bylaws state, "A person must not set any open-air fire within the City of Winnipeg … unless the Chief has issued an open-air fire permit authorizing the fire."
The bylaw goes on to allow for fires in pits or other approved bins, "So long as they’re in approved receptacles … or are in fire pits that are fixtures in campgrounds or parks."
Stefanec isn’t calling for an outright ban but thinks a permit system for fires and strict hours for when fires are allowed would help the problem.
The city of Winnipeg has its requirements for all open-air fires available online, and city officials said residents who have concerns can contact 311.