Backyard and Community Fires

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

A group of residents interested in backyard fires recently made a presentation to Council, asking for consideration to allow residential backyard fires in the City of Waterloo. Council has asked staff to look into the feasibility of backyard fires and get a wider opinion from the general public on this topic. Recognizing that not all our residents live in properties suited for backyard fires, staff are also giving consideration to community fire spaces in approved neighbourhood parks.

A staff report with the Recreational Backyard/Community Fires Review (page 97 of the Council packet), will be going to Council on Monday, May 31, 2021. The Special Council Meeting begins at 2:00 p.m. and can be watched on live-stream video. Details on the Council meeting can be found on the city's website.

A group of residents interested in backyard fires recently made a presentation to Council, asking for consideration to allow residential backyard fires in the City of Waterloo. Council has asked staff to look into the feasibility of backyard fires and get a wider opinion from the general public on this topic. Recognizing that not all our residents live in properties suited for backyard fires, staff are also giving consideration to community fire spaces in approved neighbourhood parks.

A staff report with the Recreational Backyard/Community Fires Review (page 97 of the Council packet), will be going to Council on Monday, May 31, 2021. The Special Council Meeting begins at 2:00 p.m. and can be watched on live-stream video. Details on the Council meeting can be found on the city's website.

Comments

If you have thoughts on this project outside the scope of our survey (or if the survey has closed) please share them with the project team here.

Please note that the project team's report on the Recreational Backyard/Community Fires Review (page 97 of the Council packet) has been completed and will be presented for Council vote on Monday, May 31, 2021. The Special Council Meeting begins at 2:00 p.m. and can be watched on live-stream video. Details on the Council meeting can be found on the city's website.


You need to be signed in to comment in this Guest Book. Click here to Sign In or Register to get involved

I am disappointed about the ending date of this survey and the knowledge now that this was discussed already in council yesterday.

I am against wood smoke fires in back yards ... gas fire pits would be my compromise.

Debbie M about 2 months ago

Just now discovered that there was a formal survey on input for backyard fires and it is June 1st. Very little publicity about it as I am an avid daily reader of the Record. Any chance this survey will open up again to include those of us who are just hearing about it?

Debbie M about 2 months ago

I am one of those who enjoy a good campfire and I know that backyard fires can be fun. But I also understand that fires can be hell for people who are sensitive to smoke, condemning them to spending their summer evenings indoors with windows closed. I think it would be highly unfair if I insisted on my enjoyment regardless of how this interferes with my neighbour's well-being. Smoke wafting across the neighbourhood might not be a problem if one's property is large enough, but in an urbanized area such as Waterloo, this is generally not the case. Allow small fires but not big smoky ones? To enforce that would require a backyard fire police. So lets be fair and realistic and keep the welfare of all residents in mind. My plea is for keeping the ban on backyard fires in place.
Emil Frind

Emil Frind about 2 months ago

I have read the comments you printed (I did not see my comment) I believe the choice of printed comments are a little bias in favor of open fires. I find it odd that the people favoring open fires have little consideration for their neighbors and some of their reasoning I don't understand.. For example a few respondents referred out door fire pits being no different than burning a wood indoor stove or fire place. My question would be - Why do they build chimneys on houses and high smoke stacks on factory's?? It's to help disperse the smoke so it does not choke people on the ground. I thought people would have more consideration for our environment, after all we are not to idle vehicles in a drive through pick up lines. Lawn mowers are considered heavy polluters and we pay heavy carbon tax to the Liberal government on our house heating bills and when fueling up our cars. The thought that people need a out door fire to relax is very shallow when it comes to clean air. There are all kind of options with our poisoning your neighbor with smoke. Is a neighbor expected to vacate their house when the smoke is blowing their way just so the fire burner can relive stress???? Speaking from experience ----if waterloo allows this to happen they are making a huge mistake. Just think of the millions of dollars spent to improve the carbon foot print that environmentalists and scientists have been talking about for the last few years and clean air we want our grand children to breath. It all starts at your back door. ken Beckner

sufication 2 months ago

Hi
I looked at the financial implications section regarding the not recommended option C re: backyard fires. There is no mention of the revenue opportunity of charging residents to participate / acquire a permit. Could have a few different options [yearly, monthly, per burn], which could help offset city costs.

Stoppy 2 months ago

I’m in Waterloo but I live right on the border and my backyard backs on to the backyards of Kitchener residents that all have fire pits. It’s ridiculous that it is a fineable offence for me to have a fire when literally feet away it’s perfectly legal. This law should be amended to allow home owners to enjoy a reasonable fire in their backyard in Waterloo without the fear of penalty.

Lees 3 months ago

People who complain about smoke and pollution have no idea about the reality of this world still believe they know better how everyone should manage their own backyards. Our grand-grand parents heated their homes only with wood and never complained about having asthma. You are driving cars, with with minimum 3 liters engine sizes, on a daily basis and that is not causing pollution or triggering asthmas however a small backyard fire once per month does all the bad in this city. I grew up burning fires, eating raw eggs or meat, never washing my hands or the fruits before eating - so far I have 0-zero chronic illnesses. Perhaps people around here have so many health issues, including mental because they grew up in a sterile world.
With COVID imposed restrictions this will be a good present for the kids who have to spend their march break inside the house. I am just curious, is there at least one city official(including Doug Ford) who is in support of covid restrictions and this by-law and does not have a huge mansion somewhere in Muskoka? FYI - most people don't have that luxury.

vasea 4 months ago

I'm in support of backyard fires. Kitchener, Cambridge and Noth Dumphries have allowed small backyard fires for years with reasonable restrictions and can be leaned on to create the new policy.

NatT 4 months ago

I think backyard campfires are a ridiculous idea for a city that prides itself on its efforts to be 'green' and its desire to diminish our contribution to the climate change problems. Campfires will cause increasing greenhouse gases. Another desire of the city is increased intensification of residences and people within its borders. More people living closer together does not allow for backyard campfires. The resultant air pollution will not only annoy neighbours but may exacerbate health concerns. Why should someone's desire to sit around a campfire with others in order to relax amid the stressors of the pandemic trump a neighbour's right to breathe clean air outdoors? I would suggest a walk in nature with friends to combat mental stressors. Aren't we all encouraged to be more active for our health anyway? Go to an approved campground and observe the rules there with respect to campfires.

Jan123 4 months ago

In support. Live in a neighborhood with indoor wood burning fireplaces so the "health, safety and environmental" concerns are unfounded. No different burning inside my home or in the backyard. FYI running your furnace on natural gas has environmental impacts as well. There's still the carbon, the excavation, storage, transport, infrastructure going through Greenland's, leakage, pipes degrading in the ground, etc. Regulations on time of day, size of pit, what can be burned (ie only wood, not garbage) would address noise concerns, harmful pollutants, etc.

Steven SL 4 months ago

I have a large treed lot in Waterloo. I already have small fires throughout the warmer months to burn up the branch's that come down throughout the year and at the same time enjoy quality time with my young family. All my neighbor's do the same and we have had no issues. If people are responsible and mindful of where the smoke is going then this should be on no consequence to others. Simple put, if your lot is large enough to keep the fires safe and not effecting others negatively then I certainly think this should be allowed.
From an environmental point of view: Decomposition of a tree produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Burning the log releases CO2, a much less potent greenhouse gas.
KH

Khenderson 4 months ago

For health, safety and environmental concerns, the bylaw should not be changed. We do not want backyard firepits to be allowed in Waterloo.
Health - Anyone who has lung problems i.e. asthma or other lung health issues, will be adversely impacted by any increase in particulate matter in the air from fires. We must keep in mind that air moves – we have no control over it. Smoke in your backyard doesn’t just stay there; it travels around and affects others.
Safety - There is always the potential for increased fire risk with backyard fires despite best effort measures put in place to mitigate this risk.
Environmental - Anything being burned releases particulate matter into the air and causes pollution. We should be focusing on decreasing pollution not increasing it

Deg 4 months ago

I've been a resident of Waterloo for 25 years and have had to close my windows a lot due to neighbours burning wood in backyard frequently. using AC more often, higher hydro bills.
you don't need to have a fire to enjoy your backyard, grab a blanket, dress appropriately or buy a propane fireplace. Your telling me people from different households will distance correctly around small fire pit or where a mask if not, I highly doubt that. draw a properly scaled diagram of a circle with the centre point being the fire. the more people there are the farther back you must sit in order to properly distance.
the bigger the fire. do the math...... we can't let this happen especially now with infections starting to skyrocket again...using Covid as an excuse for this wrong!!!!!

smoky the Bear 4 months ago

On the face of it, backyard fires do not belong in dense urban areas that comprise a large part of this city. I've not seen this activity allowed in most other municipalities across Canada for reasons of pollution, nuisance to neighbors and generation of an unnecessary fire hazard. Propane or natural gas fueled "fire pits" are a good compromise, especially in a dense urban setting, though with concerns about carbon reduction should see even that activity banned eventually.

Apart from this already being an activity that occurs in my neighborhood, I don't see any reason to further exacerbate the situation by allowing them through a bylaw. There are too many afternoons, evenings and late-nights where fires are lit, the smoke goes where it goes (often towards our house) and the revelers party on into the wee hours of the morning. All this is currently managed through the bylaw complaint process. There soon comes a time that city bylaw stops responding because it is too frequent an occurrence and bylaw officers have other things to do. Legalizing the activity will make it even harder for individual citizens to resolve.

In short, shelve this project and let it die a natural death.

Yves 4 months ago

Having a backyard fire is one of the few outdoor experiences we could potentially enjoy in our small yard. If neighbours are not bothered by it and they are done responsibly then I really think they should be permitted.

GFerguson 4 months ago

I am strongly against backyard fires in residential areas. Why should someone else's activity be allowed to affect the quality of life and health of their neighbours. The city should be applauded for bringing in the bylaw.
Please do not change it.

Charlie2 4 months ago

Backyard fires are allowed in Cambridge and Kitchener.
As long as people are respectful and there are parameters set so that the fires are safe, I don’t see the issue. I’m asthmatic and by having a fire doesn’t cause any issues provided I’m not standing within 2 ft of the direct smoke.

CathyDaly 4 months ago

I am absolutely in support of small backyard fires with reasonable setbacks and where burning is restricted to dry firewood.

CR 4 months ago

This is a complaint based by-law. People are having fires and for the most part by-law is not getting calls. I have fires, my neighbor has fires, we don't have them every night or even every weekend, but once and awhile when we want to spend a night outside we have a small, contained fire that is safe and enjoyable and doesn't disturb the peace. I think finding a way to permit fires, $100 a year that to renew allows the fire department a list of who is having safe legal fires. Covid has changed everything, people won't rush back to crowded movie theaters or bars, people will spend more time at home and with close friends. Allowing those in Waterloo who are already having fires and want to do it legally shouldn't be an issue.

JGM 4 months ago

I understand the desire for open fires to congregate and roast marshmallows and all the good feelings this activity generates. As an asthmatic, I am firmly against allowing open fires in our community for health reasons. A propane or gas fire table does not generate the same smoke as wood/garbage burning and you can still have your roasted marshmallows and camp songs and make memories. Those of us with lung issues need to be able to breathe in our yards and take walks in our neighbourhoods without fear for our health. Please don't make us live indoors with our windows closed isolated from our friends and neighbours just because you want an open fire pit.

Penrose 4 months ago