Letter by Cathy Baiton, printed in the Lethbridge Herald (lethbridgeherald.com) Letters – March 7, 2015
“We have a safe, clean city,” Mayor Spearman’s Feb. 20 column states. That’s mainly true – but not always, and not for every resident. Wood-burning fumes make the air in parts of Lethbridge neither clean nor safe. It should not be legal to force people to breathe the over 100 toxic substances produced by burning so-called clean wood, if our city is to be “safe, clean” and green.
One Lethbridge resident who called about my letter, “Permitting outdoor burning a mistake that needs to be corrected,” explained how any smoke exposure aggravates her heart condition and she was dreading another pollution episode. Last spring a mother wrote about the issue on the city’s Facebook page: “I can’t handle my bedroom filling up with smoke and my baby breathing that in . . .”
How many minutes in every 24 hours is smoking allowed near city-owned playgrounds? Exactly zero. Why did a previous council make that law in 2010? Because smoke is harmful and children require healthy air. So why is any parent forced to have an infant breathe second-hand smoke at home for 17.5 hours . . . or for 17.5 minutes? Why should a senior citizen with a heart problem – or anyone – be denied the right to live smoke-free? It’s inexcusable.
- Lethbridge’s Parks Bylaw 5651 prohibits smoking near city-owned playground equipment.
We need our local government to implement successfully an idea like the one brought forward at the Aug. 20, 2012 council meeting, that would require backyard fires to be neighbourhood-friendly, non-wood-burning options – which could probably be used during most fire bans. Anyone wanting wood fires could save others possible trips to the ER and/or the pharmacy, by just visiting a non-residential firepit site, as citizens did after 1991 when all residential open burning here was banned – until 2006.
In 2015 we know better. For example, particulate matter (like asbestos) is classified as a Group 1 human carcinogen.
Our elected officials must do more, and soon, to help make Lethbridge “a safe, clean city” for all.