Gravenhurst council has decided more work is needed on a controversial fire by-law before they’re able to vote on it.

“The original intention of the by-law was to create more consistency throughout Gravenhurst and with neighbouring municipalities in Muskoka by regulating fires by size and proximity to flammable items,” explains Gravenhurst’s Manager of By-Law Services Dustin Gronc. He adds that recreational fires – like campfires – would be allowed anywhere in town as long as distance and safety requirements are met. Larger fires – like ones used to burn waste – would only be allowed between November and May and stricter measures would be in place.  “The main difference is the size of the fires,” he says.

Council decided to refer the by-law back to administration for clarification on the size of permitted recreational fires in rural areas and look into how farm fires would be handled under the proposed by-law.

Gronc says staff has been working with council on the by-law for the past two years. A survey was sent out in the summer of 2019 to help shape the by-law. “The main question was how they felt about having fires in the town core,” he explains. Gronc says that 75-percent of respondents were in favour of downtown fires. He says that what is proposed is similar to what’s currently in place in other parts of Muskoka.

He adds that the By-Law Department has gotten a lot of feedback on the issue. He says there’s been “good and bad” from residents. “This is a controversial issue so people have their different perspectives on it,” Gronc says. 

According to Gronc, the plan is to touch base with the Gravenhurst Fire Department and revise the proposal. He says that will be done by the time council meets in March.