The province’s decision this week to put a fire ban in the Forest Protection Area and an off-highway vehicle ban on Crown lands does affect the upper region of the M.D. of Bonnyville.
However, there is no fire ban in the M.D. besides this provincial order.
Reeve Greg Sawchuk said on Thursday he can see the reasoning behind the fire ban from the province amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but will wait until snow melts to decide if there’s a need locally.
Those decisions are made largely with the Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority Fire Chief and also Director of Emergency Management Jay Melvin.
“We recognize that locally we have plenty of moisture still on the ground. And what we’re seeing now is people have the need–we came through a long winter and to be locked indoors fully and not be able to use your off-highway vehicle or to even go in your backyard and have a fire pit at this point in time, seems to be overstepping and is not warranted,” he said.
“We’re going to allow people on this beautiful weekend coming up to ensure that they can get outdoors and enjoy that. I think the province is just kind of overwhelmed right now.”
On Wednesday, this ban took effect along with added penalties to those who don’t follow the rules.
Fines doubled from $300 to $600 for not complying with the fire ban and those driving off-highway vehicles like snowmobiles and quads on Crown land could face a $1,200 fine.
“Our position may change in two weeks when we lose all of our snow and everything is drying off. At that point in time we’ll reevaluate.”