| Mar 12, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - March 12, 2009 Central Frontenac Council - Mar 9/09By Jeff Green

CF bylaw to regulate open air burning

Central Frontenac Fire Chief Mark MacDonald brought forth a long-awaited outdoor burning bylaw, which he said he hoped to see in place before the burning season starts for 2009.

The bylaw comes about partly in response to concerns about burn barrels that were highlighted at a public meeting 18 months ago, and while the new bylaw does not outlaw “outdoor incinerators” as a class, it does ban both the construction and traditional uses of old-style burn barrels.

It defines “outdoor incinerators” as “a steel 'shipping style' barrel or similar sized non-combustible device ... There shall be a platform in the bottom of the barrel or firebox with the air inlets below the fire to supply adequate combustion and to aid in a more complete and clean burn”.

“Proper ventilation,” according to MacDonald, “makes all the difference between a clean burning device and one that produces the kinds of noxious gases that were expressed at the public meeting in 2007”.

A clause in the bylaw that prohibits certain materials from outdoor burning, whether in outdoor incinerators, burn piles, or campfires, will also have an impact on air quality.

“Only clean, dry, untreated wood, brush and leaves are to be burnt. Alternatives such as brushing and chipping should be considered before open air burning. Recyclable products such as paper and plastics shall not be burnt. Burning of refuse and synthetic products is strictly forbidden”.

In other jurisdictions, particularly Lennox and Addington County, burn barrels have been banned in recent years, and in a report that Mark MacDonald prepared after the public meeting in 2007, banning the barrels in Central Frontenac was proposed.

“People have legitimate concerns about the improper use of burn barrels,” MacDonald said, “but if they are properly constructed and used they are acceptable”. There is a link on the township website to a site that contains information about proper burn barrel construction and set up.

Another control on the use of burn barrels, particularly in hamlet settings, is a provision that says “burning is not permitted during high winds, or when smoke is a nuisance to neighbouring properties”.

Other outdoor burning issues are dealt with in the bylaw, including setback distances from buildings and property lines for different types of burning, but perhaps the most far-reaching clauses are the ones that deal with the consequences of contravening the new bylaw.

While the bylaw can be enforced by the township’s bylaw officer, who can lay charges, the township itself, through the fire departments, will be able to levy fines if they are called in to deal with complaints or fires that result from unsafe burning.

For example, if the township investigates a complaint where it is determined that “the party is burning outside of permitted times and/or does not have the appropriate permit to burn”, the fine for the first incident is $50. The second offence carries a $200 fine, and further incidents carry a fine of $350.

Councilors had several concerns, not so much with the intent of the bylaw as with the detail.

John Purdon pointed to several instances of unclear or inconsistent wording in the bylaw, and Norm Guntensperger was concerned that the clause about smoke being “a nuisance to neighbouring properties.”

“If someone says it's a nuisance do we simply take their word?” he asked.

“In this age of You Tube and cell phone cameras I expect we will have ample evidence of illegal burning. It's not the burning of clean, dry wood that generally concerns neighbours,” said Mark MacDonald.

Mayor Gutowski said she is “very pleased with the intent of the bylaw, and I look forward to a final version coming forward in a few weeks”. 

Mayor sceptical, but CF Council wants the scoop on septic reinspection

At this week's council meeting, during a debate over whether Central Frontenac should get more information about septic reinspection programs, Mayor Janet Gutowski said, “From what I know about the dollars, I don't think it's worth it”.

Gutowski added that she knows of one township that conducted 300 inspections at a cost of “over $300,000”, but because compliance with the program is voluntary, it was like preaching to the converted. “In that case they only found six systems that needed work and only two actual work orders came out of it,” she said.

Undaunted, Deputy Mayor Gary Smith proposed a motion that staff bring back a report, and it was supported by council.

At the urging of cottage associations, septic reinspection programs have been in place for several years in Tay Valley (200 per year), North Frontenac (100 per year) and South Frontenac.

Jamie Saunders, who works for Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, runs the reinspection programs in Tay Valley and North Frontenac. In his annual report to North Frontenac Council last month, he said that the program will cost in the “neighbourhood of $7,600 for 100 inspections this coming summer”.

Saunders said, “We obviously focus on waterfront properties, where the concern is over impacts to water quality on the lake. Working with cottagers and their associations over a few years, we have found that the program builds up the local knowledge of septic systems and how to maintain them. I've always held up North Frontenac as a successful reinspection program because of our relationship with cottage associations and the township”.

South Frontenac Township budgeted $13,000 for their septic re-inspection program in 2008. The program took place on four lakes, all of which are classed as trout sensitive lakes. The program has been approved for 2009.

Hazardous Waste Day – For those people who have a shed full of old paint cans, batteries, etc. but missed the hazardous waste day last year, mark Saturday, July 25 on your calendar. Central Frontenac has contracted with Drain-All to organize and execute a hazardous waste recycling day at an as yet to be determined location in the north end of the township.

The event will be costly to the township, but there will be no fee to residents who bring in waste for disposal.

Those who cannot wait for July 25 can purchase a pass for $25 + GST at the township office to dump up to 100kg at the Kingston recycling centre at 196 Lappan's Lane. This is down from $32 previously.

Governance changes – A report from Clerk Administrator John Duchene outlined three options for how council makes decisions. Option 1 was the status quo, where all decisions and debates are carried out at twice-monthly meetings, which generally run over three hours. Option 2 would involve establishing a Committee of the Whole - an extra meeting of the entire council once or twice a month to discuss a few issues in depth, with all decisions being made at the regular council meetings, which would still be held twice monthly. Option 3 involves the creation of various committees that would report to council.

John Duchene spoke about option 2, the Committee of the Whole system, which is in place in South Frontenac. “I have worked in an organization that works like this. The Committee of the Whole could meet in the afternoon, with council meeting in the evening after a dinner break. It allows for more debate,” he said.

It would also build in a new two-week delay before decisions are made because whatever goes forward to council from the Committee of the Whole would be held until the subsequent council meeting.

“This would give the public a chance to express their opinions on council’s direction before decisions are taken,” said Duchene.

“I kind of like it, personally,” said Councilor Norm Guntenperger.

“I don't see how meeting for an extra three hours or so every two weeks will be more efficient,” said a sceptical Councilor Philip Smith, “it might just be more meetings and more talk”.

With three councilors, Bob Harvey, Bill Snyder, and Frances Smith being absent from the meeting, the subject was deferred.

Mayor Gutowski added that Frontenac County governance will be the subject of the next Frontenac County meeting on March 19, at a meeting for members of all four township councils at the county offices in Glenburnie.

Trails – Councilor Gary Smith reported that he attended a meeting of the K&P trail committee, which is considering going forward with a vision statement for the trail later this spring.

“There are several options for use of the trail and the county has $250,000 set aside to put towards it,” Smith said. “Among the options are: a non-motorized trail; a multi-use trail that allows snowmobiles but not ATVs; a multi-use trail that allows ATVs as well as snowmobiles; a multi-use trail with a transition to a non-motorized trail either north of Verona or north of Harrowsmith; or a complete multi-use trail”.

Smith said the committee is looking to hold a public meeting in late April, adding that the thorny issue of the impacts on properties in the section of trail that is privately owned would have to be dealt with.

“The cost of six bridges that need to be rebuilt is also a problem,” he said.

“This leads to a fear that some constituents have told me about,” said Norm Guntensperger. “I know a resident who lives very near one of these bridges; there is a track 15 feet from his bedroom. He would be opposed to rebuilding the bridge and I would concur with him”.

February building report bucks international trend: Six building permits have been issued in Central Frontenac so far this year, for a construction value of $341,000. This compares favourably with 2008 (2 permits for $93,000) and 2007 (3 permits for $42,000). 

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