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Whitestone’s new open-air bylaw allows for daytime fires with permit

Whitestone’s new open-air burning bylaw has undergone some changes since the last time it was at the table. 

The Municipality of Whitestone has required a permit for open-air burning circa its 2003 bylaw, and council has added daytime burning to the list.

Recreational fires at any time day or night are permitted, according to Coun. Joe Lamb, if the fire rating is below high. 

“My caution is that I think it’s going to be very difficult to get  people used to the idea that you can now happily burn during the day,”  Lamb said. “As soon as it reaches high, somehow we’ll need to  communicate to people that you can’t burn during the day.” 

However, Whitestone fire chief Bob Whiteman said the new electronic  permit system will alert permit holders of changes in fire ratings. 

“Everybody that has a permit will get an email saying that effective  tonight at 12:01 a.m., the fire danger rating is high and there is no  daytime burning,” said Whitman. 

The new bylaw still maintains permits without a cost — which is important to ratepayers, according to Coun. Joe Lamb. 

It also sets permit infraction fines at $200. 

Coun. Joe McEwen said the significant changes to the new bylaw over  the old is permits being required for daytime cooking and warmth. 

“It’s certainly complemented by the fact that people can now have a  fire through the day for their own personal enjoyment and cooking,” he  said. “So, it’s a hand-off in that respect.” 

Having the permit system moved online will make it easier to obtain, Coun. Beth Gorham-Matthews noted. 

“I think a lot of people didn’t realize they needed a permit in the first place,” she said. 

Coun. Dan Woods mentioned that the educational aspect that came from discussions with the public got everyone involved. 

“Everyone kept talking and now more people are informed,” he said, adding that the addition of daytime burning was great. 

“I love the idea of keeping the permit system and keeping it free — I think it will make it easier for everyone,” said Woods. 

Council passed the motion at its Sept. 21 meeting. 

“The new bylaw likely won’t come into effect until April 2021,” said Whitman. “As the fire season is almost over.” 

Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star

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