A Lantzville beach. Councillors are considering banning fires from all beaches in Lantzville. (NEWS BULLETIN file)

Lantzville looking to ban beach fires as youths aren’t respecting beaches

Lantzville the only municipality south of Comox Valley that allows beach fires, district staff say

Beach fires in Lantzville could soon be snuffed out.

Lantzville councillors, during a council meeting last week, gave the first two readings to a proposed fire protection services bylaw, which, if approved, would ban fires on all beaches throughout the district.

The proposed bylaw would replace an existing bylaw that allows fires on beaches with some restrictions.

Fires along beaches in the district, particularly near Peterson Road, are not an uncommon sight during the warmer and often drier months and Lantzville is unique in that it is the only Vancouver Island community south of the Comox Valley that does not have an outright ban on beach fires, according to district staff.

However, according to a staff report, Lantzville Fire Rescue responded to 56 burning complaints on the beach in 2018, with the majority of them coming outside traditional “office hours.”

A number of alternatives to an outright ban such as installing fire pits, implementing beach fire permits or regulating the number of people who could have a beach fire were rejected by staff because they would require additional “administrative duties” or are difficult to enforce, according to the report.

In the case of fire pits, the report suggests that permanent pits would be difficult, if not impossible, to build because of “rock shelf” under the beach. As a result, moveable fire pits could be a possibility, but the report notes that there is the potential for them to be moved to other areas or be “discarded” into the sea.

Staff have suggested the district install signs at a cost of roughly $1,300 informing people about the rules around fires on Lantzville beaches.

During a meeting April 15, Coun. Karen Proctor said beach fires in Lantzville need to be banned because of the adverse impact they have on marine life and the environment.

“We really are having a profound impact on that tiny beach,” she said, adding that often times fires aren’t extinguished properly and there are nails and garbage around them.

Proctor said compromise solutions such as fire pits and monitoring the beaches won’t work due to costs. She said Lantzville’s beaches are under more pressure than they have been in the past.

“I am afraid that our beaches are really suffering from overuse,” she said.

Coun. Ian Savage said based on comments from residents who have spoken on the issue at previous council meetings, beach fires are part of Lantzville’s culture and have been so for “many” years.

“Some say we should have a ban on fires because a lot of other places do, but many in Lantzville are proud we are not like other places. My kids as teenagers loved beach fires, it kept them safe and they could walk home,” he said. “The alternative was for them to drive home like in Nanaimo, with the risk of drinking and driving.”

Savage said the beach “belongs to all of us” and council should actually work to find a solution that works for everyone instead of outright banning fires.

“An outright ban is the opposite of working together, it is not even attempting a balanced solution,” he said.

Coun. Jamie Wilson said despite previously expressing a desire to see beach fires allowed in Lantzville, he now believes they should be banned. He said after a recent walk down to the beach near Peterson Road, he discovered fires burning with no one around them and other fires started by teenagers from Nanaimo.

“They were all from Nanaimo,” Wilson said about the teens. “That wasn’t the case when I grew up.”

Wilson said Lantzville has become a hub for beach fires ever since Nanaimo implemented a fire ban on their beaches more than 20 years ago.

“We are a magnet for young individuals, who I don’t think respect our beach,” he said.

Coun. Will Geselbracht called the situation at Lantzville’s beaches a “crisis” and said that the beaches have become a destination for beach fires.

“We are a target and there are a lot more folks in Nanaimo than in Lantzville and they know there is only one beach to come to,” he said.

Geselbracht expressed concerns around having fire pits and pursuing alternative solutions because of increased costs and because the fire department has “enough to do” and shouldn’t need to patrol the beach. He also said the fires are often strewn with litter around them and are often burning well into the morning.

“All of us have been disgusted by a smouldering camp fire,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain said while he recognizes there are legitimate concerns around beach fires, citing the issues around partying, broken glass, garbage and environmental harm, he believes councillors “need to do the tough work” and find a solution. He said more public education is needed around the rules of beach fires and that solutions should be explored and tested first before a ban is implemented.

“I don’t think we’ve done enough to simply ban it,” he said.

Swain and Savage were the only two members of council who voted against giving first and second reading of the proposed bylaw.







nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com 
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram

 

Just Posted

Nanaimo Search and Rescue to build a long-term base in Harewood

Group will sign 25-year co-management agreement for Fourth Street rec centre

Nanaimo council decides not to take away free long-term parking for disability permit holders

Councillors agree to rescind motion that had called for changes to 1993 parking bylaw

Nanaimo RCMP officer ‘walks on water’ to rescue lost camper

66-year-old assisted earlier this month by Mounties who can seemingly work miracles

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Big spill may come, small spills happening every day

All kinds of harmful materials are going down the drains, says letter writer

Nanaimo geocaching event aims to restore section of Millstone River

Cache in Trash out event takes place on Sept. 21 near Biggs Road

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates try to chart a path to victory

Conservatives, NDP, Liberals set sights on votes needed to unseat Green incumbent

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Vancouver Island man bikes through B.C. Interior for mental health, addiction awareness

Vancouver Island Resident Mat Fee is approaching the final phase of his cross-Canada bike journey to raise awareness about addiction recovery.

Police investigate after intoxicated teens clash with security at B.C. fair

18-year-old woman arrested and RCMP looking at possible assault in Victoria-area fall fair incident

BC SPCA investigating after three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man accused in Salmon Arm church shooting

Lawyer tells court accused was diagnosed with psychosis hours after his arrest

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Most Read