• John Jantak

Saint-Lazare imposes bans on open fires and water usage


PHOTO COURTESY SHUTTERSTOCK

Despite the recent downpour, the province remains under an open fire ban in which the town of Saint-Lazare said extends to the use of fireworks as well.

The unusually long recent period of record-setting hot and dry weather has promoted the City of Saint- Lazare to issue a complete ban on all open outdoor fires. The ban includes the use of bonfires, fireworks, flying lanterns and instruments that produce flames.

The municipal ban was enacted to comply with a province-wide alert issued by the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU) on June 19 and prohibits all open fires throughout Quebec, even with the recent downpour.

“It’s a matter of common sense. There’s a social responsibility involved,” Mayor Robert Grimaudo told The Journal during a telephone interview on June 23. “You look around and see everything is tinder dry. Don’t have a fire. Common sense has to prevail. The provincial government is telling people not to have fires and we’re telling people not to have fires.”

The city’s fire regulations already strictly prohibit the use fireworks without a permit even though they are legally available in local convenience stores. Under normal circumstances when a complete open fire ban is not in place, residents are required to obtain a permit at least 15 days before setting them off.

Municipal patrols are on the lookout for anyone who is violating the fire ban and fines of up to $1,000 will be issued.

Water use ban

The town has also decreed a ban on watering lawns with any mechanical and automated sprinkler system with treated water including the complete filling of swimming pools. The new regulations will remain in effect for an unspecified period of time.

Homeowners who have a programmed mechanical or automatic sprinkler system must immediately deactivate their devices. All residents are prohibited from washing their automobiles, driveways or the walls and windows of a building.

The ban also extends to the watering of new vegetation including lawns, seedlings and landscaping and the filling of new swimming pools. Residents who install a new pool during the ban must call a private tanker truck service to have water delivered at their own personal expense.

Watering exemptions

Watering and pool filling permits issued before June 20 will be honoured. Permit holders must fully abide by the conditions of the latter and ensure the permit is visible from the road. Vegetable and flower gardens except for lawns can also be watered provided a self-closing hose is used by only one person.

“It’s very clear on what someone can and cannot do,” said Grimaudo. “The problem is not with the aquifer. It’s about supply and demand. Basically during the peak times of water usage, we were putting out close to 13,000 cubic meters per day. This is huge considering our reservoir holds about 4,000 cubic meters.”

Water by-law disregarded

Part of the problem stems from people who are disregarding the town’s watering by-law. More citizens are watering between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. instead of between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., using water any time of the day even when it’s not allowed, and disregarding the assigned specific watering days based on their address.

“If the demand is greater than what it takes to treat our water and fill our reservoir and people are using treated water for their lawns and gardens and to fill their pools, there’s less water that we can supply. The problem is there’s too much demand,” said Grimaudo.

More information about the open fire and water bans are available on the Saint-Lazare website at ville.saint-lazare.qc.ca/en/bienvenue.

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