Sure-fire way to light up on Kapiti Coast
PEOPLE lighting bonfires in Kapiti Coast towns over the next two months won’t need a permit – because there aren’t any.
The district council has got behind with its bylaw review – it was due by last Thursday – and doesn’t expect to sort out the fire prevention one until September 1.
The council does not expect any major problems and the fire service is relaxed about the anomaly, since most fires – barbecues, braziers, outdoor ovens and incinerators under 1m diameter – do not require a permit.
Fires in rural areas are still covered by a separate law, the Forest and Rural Fires Act.
All council bylaws had to be reviewed by July 1, 2008, or become void under the Local Government Act 2002, although the law provided an extension until July 1, 2010.
The council was late in starting the bylaw review, and the process took longer than anticipated because lengthy public consultations for two bylaws put them behind schedule, says Kapiti Coast District Council spokesman Scott Dray.
“Usually when you get a lot of feedback is when a bylaw has a specific impact on people’s day to day routine.”
Nudity on local beaches and sorting out designated dog exercise zones were incredibly controversial for the local communities, taking almost two years to get the bylaws through, he says.
The fire prevention bylaw had already been partially reviewed in 2006 and the council was prepared to accept the risk of having no bylaw in place for July and August to allow time for public consultation.
The key change being proposed is to extend the powers of the principal and rural fire officer to declare a prohibited fire season throughout the entire district (currently this only applies to rural areas).
The council is also including a section to allow people to use their own barbecues in designated public areas.
Mr Dray says Kapiti Coast district does not have an overall significant fire risk, but it makes sense to manage both areas [rural and urban] if they have a real fire hazard in any particular summer season.
The potential fire risk to urban areas increases as the rural and urban boundaries start to merge, with lifestyle blocks, building on gorse laden hills and beach coastline, and living closer to parks and reserves.
He says anyone needing to light a bonfire in urban areas during July and August should ensure they take all reasonable precautions to minimise risks.
Paraparaumu Fire Service station officer Steve Hudsonsays it is business as usual for the fire service, and if there any issues after investigating a fire they will pass the information on to the council.