Saskatoon’s fire pit debate appears to be over — for now.
City council held its final vote on restrictions for backyard blazes Monday, a 6-5 decision in favour of only allowing fire pits to burn between the hours of 2 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Mayor Charlie Clark and councillors Ann Iwanchuk, Mairin Loewen, Bev Dubois, Sarina Gersher and Hilary Gough supported the bylaw change.
Councillors Darren Hill, Troy Davies, Randy Donauer, Zach Jeffries and Cynthia Block voted against it.
The decision comes after two years of debate over whether wood-burning fires should be limited.
The debate was sparked by several residents in Mayfair and Caswell Hill who had health concerns about smoke from neighbouring backyards.
Kaela Tennent, who first brought the issue to council, was relieved after the vote.
She said her 11-year-old son had been suffering from severe breathing difficulties due to nearby fire pit smoke, forcing her to send him to other homes on the weekends.
“At least we can go home and know by 11 p.m., we can open up our windows. We know when it’s going to end,” Tennent said.
A final vote was expected in March, but councillors Darren Hill and Zach Jeffries voted against consideration of third reading. The procedure required unanimous consent to pass on to the last vote.
At the time, Hill said he thought people deserved a chance to consider the 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. window — which was considered a compromise between fire pit supporters and detractors over the initially proposed 5 p.m. start time.
Hill continued to oppose the bylaw change Monday.
“The decision was wrong,” he said. “We should have been at the entire fire pits picture, all of the components, not just a burning time frame.”
The Ward 1 representative said the time frame should have been put forward for public consultation. He also noted the bylaw amendment doesn’t consider other smoke producers such as outdoor pizza ovens, fireplaces and barbecues.
The rules will be enforced by Saskatoon Fire on a complaints-driven basis. First-time offenders could face a fine of $250 for burning outside the approved hours.
Hill raised concerns about the added responsibility for firefighters, saying it could reduce response times to other incidents.
“Why is our fire department enforcing the fire pit regulations when it could be a bylaw enforcement officer?” he asked.
“You don’t need to be a fire inspector to measure a fire pit or ensure it’s seasoned wood.”
The new fire pit rules go into effect immediately.