Lacombe County council voted against imposing a year-round fire permit system in a 4 – 3 vote.
County councillors, at their regular meeting June 22, cited year-round fire permits as too much county oversight of residents as one reason for voting it down.
“I’m against this,” said Reeve Paula Law. “It’s one more regulation and all of this can be dealt with on a real dry winter with a fire ban.”
Likewise, Coun. Brenda Knight agreed.
“People are getting quite frankly tired of regulations and rules is what I’m hearing,” said Coun. Brenda Knight. She also questioned whether the year-round fire permit system would lead to all burning piles being inspected by the county fire chief and said the ratepayers should be consulted on their views of the proposal.
Coun. Rod McDermand called a year-round fire permit system too much “oversight,” adding, “We need to work with people.”
But Coun. Barb Shepherd disagreed.
“I’ve been in support of this all along. To me it makes sense to have a year-round permit system.
The full-time fire chief is recommending this.”
Coun. Keith Stephenson supported the proposal as well and said there are a lot of complaints from residents about smoke after fires are lit.
Lacombe County’s Manager of Environmental and Protective Services Keith Boras told council a year-round fire permit system would make permit holders aware of their responsibilities when it comes to safety and nuisance to neighbours when burning; better educate the public on risks associated with brush fires; lead to reduced costs and stress on the volunteer fire departments; fire departments would be notified of all planned burns, which could lead to fewer unnecessary responses; only properly seasoned brush piles would be allowed to be burned; and the county would have greater control over what is burned in Lacombe County. Currently Lacombe County issues permits from April 1 to Oct. 31.
Stettler County has had a year-round permit system since 1999. Red Deer County has had it for three years. Ponoka County is considering moving to a year-round fire permit system, said Boras.
In the past three years Lacombe County issued 104 permits for brush piles larger than 10,000 square feet.
Buffalo Lake boat tour
Lacombe County council will have a boat tour of Buffalo Lake on Aug. 26.