Council passes community standards bylaw

The bylaw will be brought back to council for review in the fall.

Chestermere City Council is addressing summer-type issues by passing the Community Standards Bylaw at the July 19 council meeting.

“We set a clause in the bylaw because we were trying to deal with the summer issues now, when we bring it back, we deal with some of the other winter-type issues,” City Councillor Stephen Hanley said.

Council with assistance from municipal enforcement passed the third reading of the bylaw with amendments.

Community Peace Officer Shaun Press presented the bylaw to council with a focus on fire pits and open spaces.

“This allows us to get these fire pits in place, we’re losing daylight when it comes to the opportunity to run certain things as pilots for a summer period of time, so we can gather accurate information for the following year and summer,” Press said. “It’s best practice to run with the information we’ve presented, and if there are amendments or changes, we can look at it again for the following year.”

The bylaw only permits fires in open spaces in city-designated fire pits. A fire cannot be left unsupervised, and can’t include used oil, painted lumber, garbage, or rubber.

City fire pits cannot be used during city-operated events unless approved by the city director or the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).

Fires that are on a residence must be contained to a fire pit, be constructed of non-combustible material, be set up on brick or stone, at least four metres from a house or garage, not directly under trees or overhanging branches, and not have an open flame exceeding more than one metre.

Press explained that if a fire poses a danger or doesn’t comply with the bylaw requirements, a peace officer, or officer of the fire department can extinguish the fire and take any other steps deemed necessary.

“This was decided strategically through the advice of fire chiefs, and captains of senior firefighters to ensure the safety is first and foremost when it comes to fire pits as a whole,” Press said. “This was a happy medium to ensure we have larger properties, smaller properties, and open spaces that are all involved with the fire pits.”

The bylaw also has a focus on open spaces.

A peace officer can demand that anyone leave an open space area, and if a person refuses to comply, a peace officer has the authority to remove them.

Under the bylaw, camping in a public place, and setting up a tent in a public place for the purpose of accommodation is not permitted.

“This is a discretionary based action for law enforcement. We wouldn’t be targeting any type of fishing huts or sunshades or anything similar to that where the application is very temporary,” Press said. “This is to ensure we don’t have any anyone erect a tent in a public space trying to make a home.”

Mayor Jeff Colvin explained that the intent for the open spaces section of the bylaw is to ensure that people are not camping in the middle of a park.

“We have to get some experience with this,” Colvin said. “With the bylaw officers understanding we would like some crystal-clear language around this, as their experience comes back, and they explain what some of the variances might be.”

The bylaw will be reviewed at the end of October.

Amendments are anticipated for ice fishing huts and open fires on the lake surface during the winter months, as residents and visitors will use the lake as an open space in the winter.

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