CORNWALL, Ontario – In a statement on her social media on Friday, Sept. 13, Mayor Bernadette Clement expressed her desire for better public consultation on the issue of the wood fire ban.
“Going into Monday’s meeting I knew the open air burning recommendation was going to be a controversial subject,” she wrote. “This means that the obligation for public consultation is even higher and I accept that we did not meet that standard on Monday night. This must be corrected.”
The Mayor has set a Special Council meeting for Monday, Sept. 16 to address the wood fire ban issue further and to address how Council and Administration deal with public feedback overall.
“Like all Council meetings, the public can attend but won’t have the opportunity to speak,” the Mayor’s statement reads. “At this meeting, Council will be reviewing ways for the public to give feedback, such as an open house or town hall meeting.”
On Monday, Sept. 9, Cornwall City Council voted by a margin of 8-3 to ban all wood fires in the city and end the permit system. Residents are still permitted to have a fire, without a permit, as long as the fire is fueled by gas.
The ban quickly raised the ire of the public, many of whom seemed confused about whether the motion banned outdoor fires all together. Petitions were quickly created to call for Council to reconsider its decision with calls for protests as well.
The Mayor said that she always appreciates and is willing to listen to the concerns of the public.
“I continue to believe that this is an important measure to protect the health and safety of the residents of Cornwall and would bring our by-laws up to date with other cities. It is a good neighbour measure,” Mayor Clement wrote in her statement. “This aside, I will always listen to what people have to say. I won’t always agree, but I always want to hear from you. I have called a Special Council meeting for Monday night to discuss how we invite feedback not only on this topic, but going forward, on all topics. A diversity of ideas and solutions leads to by-laws and policies that are more representative and supportive of how we live and conduct our lives together in this community.”