neighbours concerned about acrid smoke from constant burning

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neighbours concerned about acrid smoke from constant burning

Postby Wilberforce » Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:56 pm

Thursday, June, 14, 2012 - 2:02:29 PM
Burning man
Gerard Avenue neighbours concerned about acrid smoke from constant burning

By Heather Abrey
Kitchener Post staff

Most people have to deal with smoke drifting into their yard from the occasional campfire, but for Tom Roesseler and some of the residents of Gerard Avenue, the smoke is nearly constant and black.

“One of my next door neighbours has a large garage in the backyard, separate from the house, which he uses as a workshop,” Roesseler told council last month.

“About nine months ago he installed a large cast-iron stove with a 10-foot high aluminum smoke stack coming out from the side of it. Since that time he has been burning wood almost non-stop. Some burnings have lasted up to 12 hours.”

The Roesselers say there has been burning going on for nearly two years, but the issue became problematic when the large stove was installed.

“My wife has a heart condition and this is very bad for her breathing,” he said.

“You can’t open your windows, you can’t sit outside to enjoy your backyard, my wife can’t hang out her laundry to dry.

“We are virtual prisoners in our home.”

Several area neighbours signed a petition about the issue, and Ward 3 Coun. John Gazzola said he visited the neighbourhood and was amazed how far the smell travelled.

Beyond the personal nuisance, Roesseler is concerned about the effects burning has on the environment, and would like to see open-air fires banned in the City of Kitchener.

“Why is the city allowing these kinds of fires when they’re expecting everybody else to go green?” Roesseler asked.

“If you’ve got hundreds of these fires going on during the summer it just adds to the pollution in the air.”

While the city has a bylaw that addresses outdoor burning, the fact that the stove is installed inside a shed has caused a problem.

There is a nuisance provision within the city’s open-air burning bylaw that says residents can’t have fires that affect their neighbours’ enjoyment of their properties, however, this can’t be applied to the indoor fireplace.

“The spirit of what we were trying to accomplish there probably should apply here, but we need to find a way to do that,” said Mayor Carl Zehr of the provision.

“It’s been inspected by our fire department. It meets proper fire code regulations, and therefore doesn’t constitute a fire safety hazard,” said Kitchener Fire chief Tim Beckett.

“Changing the open-air burning bylaw will not alleviate this situation because it’s not an open-air burn. It’s a burn inside a building, no different from any house that has a chimney and a woodstove.”

Bylaw officers have also been out to the home on several occasions.

The Roesselers say their neighbour burns pressure treated wood, which releases a toxic, acrid smoke. As a result, the city’s solicitor, Lesley MacDonald, suggested the city could potentially pursue charges under the environmental protection act.

MacDonald said the matter is still under review, but was unable to comment on the issue, citing the potential for future prosecution. Roesseler said city staff told him the Ministry of the Environment has refused to investigate the matter.

“This is the first that we’ve heard of the residents’ or the neighbours’ concerns,” Kate Jordan, a ministry spokesperson, told the Post Tuesday.

“We would be happy to speak with them directly and also to come out and do a site visit of the burning just to determine if there are any environmental concerns or impacts.”

• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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