East Hawkesbury residents smoked out
The Ministry of Environment (MOE) has asked an area farmer to cease his burning activities after some residents complained that the smoke was wafting into their homes last week.
Jason Reasbeck, who lives in Chute-à-Blondeau, said this marks the second summer in a row that he, along with other residents, have had to put up with smoke wafting in to their homes as a result of burning being carried out on a nearby tract of land.
"This is starting to affect a lot of people in the area of East Hawkesbury between St. Eugène and Chute-à-Blondeau," Reasbeck told The Review. "Last summer the landowner began clearing land on County Road 14 between Concession 2 and Concession 3 in East Hawkesbury township. This spring it started again. As it gets closer to the Concession 2, wind shifts the smoke from the burning debris into the residential area of Concessions 2 and 3 and the homes along County Road 14."
Reasbeck said many feel this "is a public health hazard" and no consideration is being shown for the people of the area.
He said the burning begins in the morning and continues well into the evening.
"The smell of smoke can linger in the house at times for days and on our clothes, and makes peaceful enjoyment of our outdoor space difficult," Reasbeck noted. "I live on less then half a kilometre from the burning. The smoke causes headaches and nausea. In some instances, there are houses right across the street from the brush fires. We were never advised that this burning was going to be happening."
Linda Rozon, chief administrative officer (CAO) for East Hawkesbury, told The Review the township is well aware of the situation.
"We are very aware of the issues and the complaints of the residents in the area," she said during an interview Monday afternoon. "A farmer bought a 70-acre piece of land in that area last year and began burning last year. He started burning again this spring and last week, some problems arose."
Rozon said the burning did become an issue last week because the wind shifted and sent the smoke toward homes in the area. She said she met with angry residents and confirmed their homes certainly did smell like smoke.
"There is no doubt there was a problem last week and I can definitely understand why residents were so upset," she stated. "One day last week was particularly bad and I understand it was a major pain for residents."
Rozon said the township met with the landowner and asked him to try and limit the impact his activities are having on residents. However, Rozon said, there isn't much the township can do because there is legislation in place that states farmers are allowed to burn on their properties.
"The only time they can't burn is if a burn ban is in place," she explained. "But other than that, farmers can burn when they want. Our hands are somewhat tied because while we sympathize with residents, we can't tell the farmer to stop. That being said, farmers are not allowed to impact the quality of life for residents and we did ask the landowner not to burn on days where there is a lot of wind."
Rozon said it can be hard to monitor these types of activities, since Mother Nature can change in a blink,
"When he started burning that day, there wasn't any wind," she noted. "Then the wind picked up and the problems started."
The MOE was made aware of the incident and has asked the landowner to refrain from burning the rest of his piles until the fall.
"The MOE has stepped in and asked the landowner to stop until the fall or winter," Rozon said. "There shouldn't be any more burning now until the fall."