People may soon be allowed to bring portable barbecues and stoves down to the beach for picnics after the committee of the whole voted in favour of recommending a change to the bylaw last night (May 22).
Oak Bay Fire Chief Dave Cockle recommended to the committee of the whole that the Parks and Beaches Bylaw be amended to allow “outdoor burning appliances” on foreshores and beaches in Oak Bay between May 1 and Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m..
The original proposal would permit the use of charcoal, natural gas or propane gas fires contained within barbecues, grills or other outdoor appliances for the purpose of cooking food or enjoying a portable gas campfire.
After much discussion around the table and with consideration of public input, the committee made a motion to recommend the bylaw change but with two alterations – extend the hours to 10 p.m. and prohibit the use of charcoal.
The motion passed unanimously.
“I am so thrilled that this bylaw change is moving to council. One of my most favourite things when my husband and I are backpacking along the west coast is to end the day with a lovely fire on the beach as we watch the sun go down,” said Coun. Hazel Braithwaite. “When you think about it, families have gathered around fires since before recorded history and so really it’s kind of engrained in us to do so. I don’t think you can underestimate the social bonding and community engagement that can happen around a fire.”
The bylaw amendment is expected to come before council for final approval. The next council meeting is set for May 28.
“I am so happy that we have found a way to balance safety, environmental protection, air quality, and enjoyment of the beach in the evening in our urban setting,” said Coun. Michelle Kirby. “There’s nothing quite like the magic of sitting with family and friends around a fire on the beach, and I’m really looking forward to being able to do it for the first time since moving to the island nearly 20 years ago. I know our community will love this new approach, and will be respectful of neighbours, and clean up after themselves.”
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