Ucluelet council adopted new fire bylaws and outdoor burning regulations during the May 11 council meeting.
Fire chief Rick Geddes says the new bylaws still give people the freedom to enjoy a campfire, but provide more guidance.
Garden refuse and clearing land
Under the new bylaws, Ucluelet resident are now prohibited to burn garden refuse and clear land with fires.
“It’s mainly to do with air quality management in this day and age. It’s important for wildfire safety was well,” said fire chief Geddes, adding that the new bylaw is very timely.
“There are several developments possibly coming down the wire and we wanted to stay ahead of that,” he said.
Acting CAO Andy Laidlaw said Ucluelet is undergoing an evolution refuge and garbage to reduce its carbon emissions.
“The emphasis is on health and safety. You have smoke that gets into peoples’ houses. You have people that have congestive problems… But it also just dovetails the fact that we don’t want to put more carbon emissions out there,” said Laidlow.
The District of Ucluelet is hosting a municipal “Clean-up Week” from May 26 to June 2. During this time, three bins will be located at the Ucluelet Community Centre where residents can dispose of scotch broom, garden waste, and items that are not picked up through regular garbage collection.
“This bin program is our alternative to burning until we have a full service. Burning refuse in your backyard in 2021 just doesn’t make any sense. It violates any kind of principles we are trying to move towards,” said Laidlaw.
Beach fires are now required to be extinguished by 10:00 p.m., while the previous outdoor burning bylaw did not have a curfew attached to it. There is a $100 fine associated with not extinguishing a beach fire by 10:00 p.m., but Geddes says he is taking an educational approach to inform residents and visitors of the new bylaws rather than handing out fines.
Furthermore, the largest allowable campfire is now set at 0.5 m wide by 0.5 m high to align with provincial regulations related to the size of campfires.
“Our previous definition of a campfire was twice the size of what the provincial government says. So a campfire in the District of Ucluelet had been one metre by one metre,” said Geddes.
“Seeing what’s going on in Tofino with their campfire issues there, we felt we needed to be proactive and govern [the beach fires] a little bit more. This will hopefully help. It will still allow people to enjoy a beach fires, just set some parameters,” he said.
The new fire bylaws also prohibit the use of sky lanterns. A shovel, bucket of water or hose must always be near to extinguish the fire as well.
Anyone interested in learning more is encouraged to contact fire chief Rick Geddes: firstname.lastname@example.org.