Halifax ponders new rules to curb 'unrelenting' wood smoke from fireplaces

Municipality has a bylaw for outdoor open air burning, but there are no rules for indoor devices such as wood fireplaces that get excessively smoky.

Municipality has no rules for indoor devices that get excessively smoky

The Canadian Lung Association says wood smoke can aggravate respiratory conditions. (CBC)

A Dartmouth man wants relief from the "unrelenting" wood smoke that wafts through his neighbourhood during the evenings, and Halifax officials are now looking into the issue.

Roger Gerard lives on Portland Street near Pleasant Street. There are a lot of Victorian houses in the area, he said, and many seem to burn wood in fireplaces or have excessively smoky furnaces.

It's so bad, he said, he wakes up each morning with a nose bleed.

"We're in a bit of a valley here," said Gerard. "It just pelts down here and finds its way in even with the windows closed."

New rules investigated

The Halifax region has a bylaw for outdoor open air burning, but the municipality has no rules for indoor devices. Gerard wants that to change.

He points to Montreal, which recently adopted a bylaw that prevents any new wood burning appliances from being installed. Existing ones have to comply with air emission standards and no device can be used on a smog day. The city has between 10 and 20 smog days a year.

A spokesman for the Halifax region confirms new rules for indoor wood burning are being investigated.

"Officials with fire, planning and the legal department are collaborating on an information report," said Brendan Elliott.

It's unclear when the report will be ready, Elliott said. It was initiated after a petition with 26 signatures was submitted in February 2016 requesting a nuisance smoke bylaw to reduce the negative impact from indoor burning appliances.

Respiratory conditions

The petition was submitted by former regional councillor Jennifer Watts, who represented District 8 Peninsula North at the time.

The Canadian Lung Association says wood smoke can aggravate respiratory conditions and recommends wood not be burned in residential areas.

In New Brunswick the local lung association urged the Fredericton city council in 2016 to adopt a bylaw restricting the use of indoor wood burning devices.

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca