Sylvan Lake bans use of charcoal barbecues in Town parks

Visitors and residents picnicking in Sylvan Lake are asked to leave the charcoal barbecues at home

Charcoal barbecues are no longer permitted in Sylvan Lake’s parks.

Monday night’s council meeting saw Town Council pass a motion to ban the use of charcoal barbecues in all parks in town, claiming they are a safety risk.

Town Council’s official motion requests amendments to the Fire Bylaw to be presented at the next meeting of council on May 27.

That means the ban on the barbecues will not be in effect for the May long weekend, May 18-20.

The restriction will not be applied to grills powered by propane.

According to Lee Furlotte, parks manager, there have been numerous complaints from the public as well as safety concerns raised by staff.

“These briquettes are often disposed of where the barbecue is and not in the intended disposal containers,” Furlotte said, adding without restrictions in place there are many picnickers who use charcoal barbecues in Town parks.

“These briquettes are often left sitting in the grass and on the beach area, next to the base of trees and shrubs.”

The report to council states the improper disposal of charcoal, as described by Furlotte, leads to a “greater risk of fire, personal injury and damage to park infrastructure and vegetation.”

Furlotte says banning the use of charcoal barbecues will also add to staff safety.

“During a Committee of the Whole meeting I provided some pictures that showed staff emptying these containers that were on fire because they were mixed with other pieces of garbage,” said Furlotte, speaking about the hot coal bins found in Sylvan Lake Park.

He continued saying the restrictions will reduce risk injury to the public.

“We have received complaints… of people coming across the charcoal just being across the green spaces,” he said.

During the meeting Council also approved the purchase of signage, which will be installed in the park and on picnic tables, and for additional monitoring and enforcement.

The additional signs and enforcement comes with a price tag of $5,000, which came from the Parks Capital Reserve.

Because this is a new regulation being put into effect for 2019, those caught using a charcoal barbecue will not be cited.

“…Individuals caught using a charcoal barbecue will be asked to extinguish the barbecue and will not be cited if the comply with the request,” the report to council states.

Joanne Gaudet, communications officer with the Town of Sylvan Lake, says the focus of this summer will be educating people, especially visitors.

“We acknowledge that the toughest audience to reach are our visitors, so much of this year will be educating as opposed to ticketing,” she said in an email

The amendments to the Fire Bylaw to include charcoal barbecue restrictions and penalties will return to Town Council on May 27.

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