In a split decision Monday afternoon, Vernon, B.C., city council narrowly supported a proposal to allow propane fire pits in Polson Park.
The proposal was put forward by councillor Scott Anderson, who suggested the portable fire pits could help brighten a dreary pandemic winter.
“It’s going to be a long, cold winter for people,” Anderson said.
“I think it behooves us, as a city, to do what we can for our residents to give them safe outdoor spaces… A lot of people can’t afford to go skiing and do expensive things like that but everyone can afford to sit around a fire.”
People with whom Global News spoke on the streets of Vernon had a range of opinions on the proposal.
One woman thought it would bring back a bit of needed spirit to the community that she felt had been crushed during the pandemic.
However, others were concerned it could cause people to gather or would need to be supervised to prevent problems.
Under Anderson’s proposal, those enjoying fires would still have to follow limits on social gatherings which, under current restrictions, means groups would be limited to household bubbles.
Anderson believes fires can be allowed in the park between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. without substantially increasing the risk of people gathering or creating a nuisance.
The councillor reasoned there is always the risk of problems in the park even without the propane fire pits being allowed.
“Everything can be abused,” Anderson said.
“If they are going beyond the mandate of this motion, they are doing the same thing as if they lit a fire in Polson Park right now.”
The proposal got support from Vernon council on Monday, but the city is still working on how to implement the idea.
City staff is expected to report back to council on the next steps in mid-January.