The debate on restricting backyard fire pit burning hours went up in a puff of smoke on Monday, as councillors decided to push back a vote for another month.
Saskatoon city council was set to vote on a draft bylaw which would limit backyard fires to burning between the hours of 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. nightly.
The idea was originally approved by council in a slim 6-5 vote in December.
Ward 2 councillor Ann Iwanchuk moved to defer the bylaw vote to the March 26 meeting, so reports from administration and the fire department on enforcement and free permitting could be considered.
The motion passed by a vote of 7-4, with councillors Zach Jeffries, Randy Donauer, Troy Davies and Darren Hill against.
The four wanted instead to delay debate until May 28, and in the meantime start public engagement to gather thoughts on the bylaw.
Iwanchuk said council has already received enough input from the public on the issue.
“This is a health issue … I don’t think health issues should be part of public consultation,” she said.
The Saskatchewan Lung Association had asked council to ban all wood-burning fires in 2017, supported by several residents who say they and their family members have trouble breathing outdoors due to neighbours’ fire pits.
Ward 1 councillor Darren Hill had encouraged those who oppose the ban to come to council chambers on Monday to speak out. Only those in support of the restrictions showed up, but were denied the chance to speak when the item was deferred.
Councillors added Monday a free permit system could create more accountability for property owners.
Hill suggested he would try to push the debate back again during the March meeting, to facilitate a public discussion.