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Open Air Burning

Camp Fire

The smell of wood smoke on a cold, clear night. It sparks feelings of coziness, the simple life and getting back to the good old ways. In Ontario citizens have a long, close bond with wood, fire and smoke. Ontario is vast and today we still burn organic material for a variety of reasons depending on the location:

  • to heat our homes (wood stoves and fireplaces);
  • to dispose of debris from gardening, agriculture and land development;
  • to get rid of logging slash and prepare land for planting;
  • to dispose of sawmill wood residue;
  • to prevent wildfires;
  • to enhance wildlife habitat;
  • for beach and campfires.

But times have changed. What was once considered a harmless practice is now recognized as a major source of air pollution. Smoke from burning vegetation is now considered one of the most serious kinds of air pollution in British Columbia. In fact, it can be more hazardous to ones health than smog.  Smoke also carries a variety of both proven and suspected carcinogens.

In addition, smoke particles are small enough to be breathed into the deepest parts of our lungs. It is associated with all sorts of health problems -- from a runny nose and coughing, to bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, heart disease and even death.

Senior citizens, infants and people who already have lung or heart problems are most at risk, but healthy younger adults and children can also be affected.
Research has shown that people of all ages can be negatively effected by smoke inhilation and exposure.  

Following public consultation and a public meeting St Catharines council on February 23, 2015 passed a by-law to regulate the setting and maintaining of Open Air Fires and some other aspects of fire prevention in the City of St. Catharines.

The purpose of this by-law is to ensure the safety and well being of all residents of St. Catharines.


The owner of a property where an open air fire has occurred is subject to a minimum fee of $250 for the extinguishment of the non-compliant fire and may be prosecuted for contravention of the by-law.

Copyright © 2014 The Corporation of the City of St. Catharines