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Council pours cold water on backyard fires in Waterloo

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KITCHENER -

The backyard fire debate in Waterloo has been put out again, with city council voting on Monday to keep the ban on open air fires.

This vote came after a survey of 2,400 people in March found 80 per cent of respondents favoured allowing fires with restrictions.

But a staff report to council suggested, even as a two year pilot project, allowing fires could cost $430,000 to manage and enforce.

"I feel my obligation in looking at that balance, and listening to both sides, is to come down on the side of needs over the sides of wants,” said councillor Jeff Henry.

Many councillors saying on Monday that they understand the benefits, but can't ignore the drawbacks or health concerns.

"I love fires, I really do. I wanted to support them. I've got a lot of great memories around fires, but I just cannot bring myself to get there based on the research. At the end of the day, smoke from wood fires does not respect property lines," added councillor Royce Bodaly.

Councillor Angela Vieth was the only one to vote against keeping the ban in place.

"Families in their backyards having a small fire now and then is the way to go and Kitchener's doing it,” said Vieth. “I can't understand why we can’t model some rules after what Kitchener does.”

Staff told council public health, public safety, risk management and complaints were the biggest drawbacks.

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