By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Lethbridge County has adopted a new fire bylaw which consolidates four separate, but related fire bylaws and will provide better clarity to administration and residents.
One such change in the new bylaw is the increase of the minimum fine for fire-related infractions from $100 to $250. Administration considered it had been a number of years since the fee structure had been evaluated and determined that $100 may not be a strong deterrent.
Another change is to update the language surrounding the different levels of alerts, and provide clarity on what is classified as a fire restriction, ban, or advisory. Larry Randle, director of Community Services for the County, was joined by Byron Fraser, Fire Services coordinator, to present the agenda item during the June 16 council meeting.
The new bylaw, “provides more information surrounding the declarations of fire bans and advisories. Up until (the past) year, the County has used fire bans and fire advisories, but not so much fire restrictions.” As a middle ground, the fire restriction designation has been, “a helpful and practical mid-point,” to outright bans or broad advisories.
Randle explained, since the passing of the first reading of the draft bylaw, “it has been remarkably silent; we didn’t really get feedback from the public.” Prior to first reading, council expressed some minor concern over the technical nature of the bylaw, which is 19 pages.
Although the bylaw is long, Randle said the intention of this was to capture all of the existing policies laid out in the previous four fire-related bylaws and provide residents and council with a comprehensive document. “We do refer to the (various fire bylaws) frequently, particularly in the summer and warmer months. A lot of activity goes on concerning this bylaw, and we wanted to be sure it was accurate,” in all of its legal and practical applications.
Several of the previous disparate bylaws were in conflict with one another with respect to administration’s authority to announce fire bans or restrictions and this has also been rectified in the newly adopted bylaw to allow administration the authority to put bans, advisories, or restrictions in effect.
Bylaw 22-002 is taking the place of previous fire-related bylaws Stubble Burning bylaw (1989), the Fire Ban bylaw (2014), the Fire Permit bylaw (2014), and the Fire Services bylaw (2021) and is intended to provide one unified and cohesive bylaw for all burning and permit-related items.