DEAR URBAN DECODER: I want to have a campfire in my backyard this summer, but I’m confused about whether or not I’m allowed. Are there certain restrictions?
Good question, but the answer really depends on what area of the city you live in.
According to the City of Ottawa, outdoor fires — including open-air, outdoor fireplaces, and campfires — are not permitted in urban areas of the city. Strict rules have been put in place to ensure the safety of both people and buildings within the city. Things like lot size, the proximity of surrounding buildings, and population density come into play with the burning bylaw.
If you live in a more rural area of Ottawa, you may be allowed. But not so fast — there are certain rural areas of the city where open-air, outdoor fireplaces, and campfires are still not permitted. For instance, Osgoode and Manotick are permitted to use outdoor fireplaces and campfires, but Munster Hamlet is not. The City of Ottawa has a comprehensive map on their website detailing in which areas of the city certain fires are permitted. Wait before you pick up the firewood, though. The city requires you to apply for a permit beforehand, which can be done at designated City of Ottawa Client Service Centres and fire administrative offices. (For more information on burn permits, see here.)
If you live in an area where fires are permitted, there are just a few things to remember. Make sure your campfire is at least 15 metres away from surrounding items, like your home, hedges, fences, overhead wiring, or anything else that could catch on fire. Also make sure that you’re not using anything but dry firewood. If you’re using an outdoor fireplace (think chimineas, metal, or masonry units), remember that the fireplace should stay a minimum of 5 metres away from all of the items listed above. Also, it’s best to check to make sure there isn’t a fire ban in place where you live.
If you’re still unsure, consult with your local fire department. They’ll be able to advise you about any rules associated with the ward in which you live.
If everything checks out and you’ve got the green light, then get the S’mores ready.