Town looks to regulate smoke emissions

By Karen Fallon

The use of solid fuel burning appliances came under scrutiny recently when council debated whether or not a bylaw is needed to regulate them in the municipality.

A recent civil action between two neighbours in the municipality involving smoke emissions brought about a report from the town’s chief building official Stephen Brown.

Councillor Bart DiPasquale says he believes the town should be progressive regarding this situation.

“I just don’t agree that citizens should have to spend 10, 12 or $15,000 to try and solve this in a civil court and it take a number of years,” said DiPasquale. “I think the motion doesn’t restrict us; it’s not too strict, it is reasonable.”

To deal with emissions from solid wood burning appliances such as wood stoves and fireplaces council agreed to direct administration to use the Town of Oakville’s smoke nuisance bylaw and Environment Canada’s municipal bylaw model to research and suggest changes.

This would not involve a total ban of this type of emission but rather implement a progressive penalty system starting with a warning and escalating each time there is a violation.

According to Brown’s report, the installation of solid fuel burning appliances in buildings is regulated through the Ontario Building Code and CSA standards.

A building permit is required for the installation of all solid fuel burning appliances and their related chimneys. In addition the installation is required to be certified by an inspector licensed with the Wood Energy Technology Transfer agency (WETT).

The Building Department routinely issues two or three permits for these appliances per year. The trend for wood burning fireplaces in new homes, says Brown, is fairly rare as most new home fireplaces are natural gas appliances.

“The issue here is there have only been three complaints in 18 years,” said councillor Carolyn Davies. “My concern is we go ahead with a bylaw and not only is it expensive to put in, it is a bylaw that is not going to get used because everything is coming up to code,”

Davies says she believes that a “good” educational program may be the answer to creating a better awareness as to what can be burned within fireplaces and wood stoves.

Councillor Robert Pillon says he believes some type of action is required as a precautionary measure should something, “happen like this again.”

Councilor John Sutton pointed out that it is important to understand that the town cannot “legislate a good neighbor”

“I think if there was something in place in respect to a municipal bylaw that would put a stop to it immediately that would have been helpful,” said Sutton. “I think what we need to do is see if such a step exists.”

“I think that we have to hold out that sometimes the best solution is for two neighbours to talk across the fence and come to their own solution, he continued.”

Emissions from any source which emits particulates in the air fall under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act of which the authority having jurisdiction is the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

There have been three written complaints filed with the Amherstburg building department concerning emissions from wood burning stoves or fireplaces since April 1994.

 

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