Hampstead passes by-law banning wood-burning 'appliances'
Throwing a few logs onto the fire to ward off the chills, or boosting a home's market value by saying it has a fireplace, could soon be memories in the Town of Hampstead, where a bylaw cracking down on wood-burning has just been passed.
By-law No. 729-2, dealing with construction and plumbing, as well as wood-burning appliances, states that "no person shall install a wood burning appliance, in which wood or solid fuel is burned and which discharges combustion products to the air, in or about any residential property."
The by-law defines "wood burning appliance" as "a fireplace insert, wood stove, central furnace or similar device, including a pellet stove and any outdoor solid fuel combustion appliance." It further states that "this by-law does not apply to barbeques."
A fireplace insert is a device, usually a steel chamber with glass door in front and vents around, that is inserted into a brick fireplace. Its purpose is to increase heating efficiency. "It is the responsibility of every property owner that already has such appliances installed to comply with this article of the By-law within seven (7) years of it coming into force," the by-law adds.
Responding to a resident's questions about the ban during last week's town council meeting, Mayor Bill Steinberg said the purpose was "to get people not to use their fireplaces on days when there's a lot of smog … A lot of people are using it when there's a lot of smog. It's a health hazard for old people, young people, people who have respiratory diseases."
In an interview, Steinberg told The Monitor, "I don't know how early we are on this. I think we're one of the first towns doing it. But I suspect if others haven't done it, including Montreal, they will be doing it — some maybe even more stringent than we are. "They may even ban fireplaces. But we feel this is a reasonable measure to take at this point in time, because the smog that's created by wood burning appliances is a serious problem … "I don't think there are any people in Hampstead who are contemplating putting in any wood burning appliances," he added. "But if they are, they will not be able to do so as soon as the by-law is published."
While Steinberg acknowledged that even his home is equipped with a fireplace, he said, "The truth is it's been years since we used our fireplace and that's what we would encourage people to do. "If you have a fireplace — and most homes in Hampstead do have fireplaces — okay, use them once in a while. But don't use them on a regular basis. It's bad for people's health."