May 17, 2017 1:07 pm
Updated: May 17, 2017 3:09 pm

Vancouverites can now be fined $500 for improperly discarding cigarettes

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A number of new changes to the City of Vancouver’s fire bylaw could cost offenders a pretty penny.

From now on, Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services says a fine of $500 can be levied against anyone who discards burning material that creates a hazardous situation.

Anyone tossing cigarettes or other burning material onto grass, vegetation or debris can be fined by a fire prevention officer or police officer.

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Capt. Jonathan Gormick, public information officer with Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services, told Global News no such fines have been levied before.

“We have always had a massive increase in the number of vegetation brush fires through the month of July, August and September, specifically in 2015 when we had that extremely dry season.”

Gormick says previously the only fine that could be imposed was for littering, but it did not reflect the degree of hazard that was caused by improperly discarded smoking materials.

“With this new increased fine and with the ability for both fire prevention officers and police officers to issue it, we are hoping it encourages people to discard cigarettes in an ash tray or one of the numerous smoking material receptacles throughout the City of Vancouver,” he said.

In addition, fines of $750 per day can now be levied against property owners who leave unoccupied buildings in an unsecured state to help combat an ongoing increase in vacant-home fires and vandalism.

Gormick says there were close to 40 fires in vacant or unoccupied properties in Vancouver in 2016.

Finally, anyone found to have maliciously activated a fire alarm system, or falsely and maliciously reported a fire could now be subject to a $500 fine.

Mandatory carbon monoxide alarms 

Gormick says carbon monoxide alarms will now be mandatory for all residential buildings in Vancouver.

An exception will exist for homes with no fuel-fired appliances and no attached garage.

Carbon monoxide is an odourless, colourless, poisonous gas emitted as a by-product of combustion. Earlier this year, a family of four lost their lives in Ashcroft, B.C. to suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, and Gormick says the City of Vancouver has seen more than its fair share of near misses.

“They are now required in every residence throughout the city – weather you are in a single-family dwelling or an apartment,” Gormick said. “It is a very inexpensive way to save lives.”

READ MORE: How to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide alarms have been mandatory in most homes in Ontario since 2014.

The new amendments to Vancouver’s fire bylaw went into effect on Tuesday.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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