Update on the Fire Ban and Severn Township
As reported in our annual president's update and as discussed during our annual general meeting, Severn Township had referred the fire-ban bylaw that governs the west side arm of Tea Lake to staff, as a result of a formal complaint from the Association of Severn Township Campers (we were unable to verify the validity of this association or who was behind it). This followed a motion by council to abolish the by-law all together, which fortunately was voted down. Shortly after our AGM, we requested an opportunity to speak to council about our concerns related to any attempt to eliminate this crucial piece of legislation. Your executive presented to the Corporate Services Committee of Severn Township on September 23. By that time, staff had proposed a new by-law to replace the existing one.

The motivation behind this new by-law is to make it more compliant with the Forest Fire Prevention Act and therefore less likely to be challenged legally.

The only material change in the revised by-law draft was to restrict fires in the protected area via a) permit or b) a cookstove that is at least one meter from any naturally occurring flammable material; is designed to use a liquid or a gas as fuel; and can be extinguished by closing a fuel control valve or by closing the stove.

We conveyed our general concern for any amendments that increase the risk of forest fire in this critically sensitive area. We also recognize that preserving an open-air fire ban was critical here, so on that basis we stated that our association had no objection to the new by-law as written.

This new By-law 2020-53 was approved by the Severn Township Council on October 7, 2020 and is now in effect. We are pleased that we have been able to get Severn Township to agree to maintain a permanent general fire ban in this area and want to thank council for their support in this regard.