Changes to the City of Weyburn’s Fire Services Bylaw were officially passed by Weyburn City Council Monday night. The bylaw had been given its first reading at the meeting on October 9th.
The changes came about after a review of the previous bylaw by the Weyburn Fire Department, with a number of changes and additions recommended. Among the changes were definitions and abbreviations, what the authority of the fire chief is, the fees for services, fees for responding to false alarms, inspections, fire bans, as well as rules surrounding fire pits, barbecues, propane heaters, wood pules and more.
The reasoning offered for the changes was to better clarify the bylaw for residents of Weyburn, reduce the time spent on scene by fire crews for false alarms, reduce repeat inspections for property owners who refuse to comply with the national fire code, and the ability to recover expenses within the city for fire department responses.
Education was also a key focus of the bylaw, with some of the fees and fines in the schedule included with the bylaw eliminating the fine for a first offence, and instead replacing that with a warning.
While the bylaw did pass, it wasn’t unanimous with the lone vote of dissent coming from Mayor Marcel Roy.
“I think the fines are way too heavy,” Roy said during the meeting. “When we talk about education, there’s (sic) much better ways than heavy fines. I know there’s cost recovery on that, but there’s other ways of doing it.”
The mayor also mentioned comments he had received from residents concerning the bylaw.
“Talking to some business people, some of the implementation of this enforcement is going to cost them anywhere – it seems like it’s very basic stuff that they want – but it's going to be $10,000 to $20,000 for small businesses.”
The sentiment was understood by Councillor Ryan Janke.
“I understand your point, and I don’t even disagree with it, but I would make the exact same argument I made about the dog and cat bylaw moments ago that we have to trust that it’s going to be applied sanely, and there is no perfect number for any of these things,” Janke stated during the meeting.
The bylaw did pass with a vote of 6 to 1 and replaces the Fire and Protective Services bylaw that came into effect in April of 2021.