Saskatoon councillors want more information before voting on firepit ban

The Lung Association of Saskatchewan will be asking Saskatoon city councillors for a ban on backyard fire pits Monday morning.

Sask. Lung Association says wood-burning firepits dangerous for people with health conditions

The Lung Association of Saskatchewan would like Saskatoon to ban wood-burning fire pits. (CBC)

Saskatoon city councillors are asking the fire department for more information before they vote on restricting backyard firepits.

Concerned citizens, including the Saskatchewan Lung Association, made presentations to a city committee on Monday, asking that wood-burning backyard firepits be completely banned. They argued that smoke from neighbouring yards can be dangerous to people with lung and heart conditions.

Councillor Bev Dubois moved that the Saskatoon Fire Department look into restricting fires for certain hours of the day, how a ban would be enforced and how bans in other municipalities like Toronto and Vancouver are handled.

"I would also like to get more information on a permit process, including cost," said Dubois.

The Lung Association said it's important that the City of Saskatoon move on this issue.

"This issue is long overdue," said Saskatchewan Lung Association vice-president of health promotion, Jennifer May told CBC News.

"We encourage the people of Saskatoon to be good neighbours and foster a healthy community."

May said backyard smoke can travel lengthy distances and can affect people with asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

"Honestly, I think a lot of people don't even realize when they're sitting outside and having their fire, they're not realizing some of the impacts they're having on some members of their community," said May.

The idea has precedent in other Canadian cities like Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver and Kelowna, which have already have outright bans. May would like people to start using alternatives, like propane and natural gas heaters instead.

In the report prepared for councillors, the Saskatoon Fire Department said fire pits aren't a fire safety issue, but can have health implications for some people.

The policy review was spurred on by a woman who complained her asthmatic child suffered choking and coughing from smoke from her neighbours' backyard bonfires.

The report gives the city's Standing Policy Committee on Planning, Development and Community Services a number of options — from doing nothing to bringing in a limited or an outright ban.


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