Blue Line

RCMP enforcing Nova Scotia’s ban on open fires, will charge maximum fine of $25,000

June 2, 2023  By The Canadian Press

June 2, 2023, Halifax, N.S. – Nova Scotia RCMP say they are enforcing a provincial ban on burning and another on travel and activities in the woods that were put in place as firefighters battle raging wildfires.

Premier Tim Houston announced Wednesday that with people continuing to light fires and to burn material, the maximum fine for doing so would jump from $237.50 to $25,000.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Chris Marshall said in an interview Friday that since 4 p.m. Tuesday, 10 tickets had been issued by the force in the rural areas where it has jurisdiction. However, he said tickets were issued before the regulatory changes were processed, so those charged won’t face the stiff new fine.

“Going forward people will face the maximum fine,” Marshall said.


He said any subsequent offenders will actually face a fine totalling $28,872 when court and administrative fees are tacked on.

“Don’t burn anything,” warned Marshall. “If we become aware and become involved, we will take action that’s appropriate.”

Marshall said seven of the fines went to people who set small pit fires or who flicked a cigarette in a wooded area, while the other three went to people who were seen hiking in the woods.

“My understanding is that all of the tickets that have been issued are related to complaints that have been made to us,” he said.

Marshall said none of the tickets were in the Halifax area or in Shelburne County, where the two largest wildfires are burning. The tickets were issued in Colchester, Cumberland, Hants, Kings, Victoria and Yarmouth counties, he said.

Marshall was at a loss to explain people’s motivations for burning, saying the ban and the changes to the fine have been well communicated.

“It’s hard to know (why) but evidently there are people that want to light a fire, which is obviously not OK at this point,” he said.

Cape Breton Regional Police later reported that they had fined two people the maximum amount on Friday for fires.

The first $25,000 ticket was given to a 57-year-old Sydney, N.S., man after police responded to a report of a fire in a yard on Hillside Street. The second fine was handed to a 43-year-old man after a report of a garbage fire on Grants Lane in Sydney.

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said Thursday that two people in the Halifax area were fined Wednesday night after one was caught lighting leaves on fire with a propane torch and another decided to have a bonfire. He called their actions “a clear violation of the ‘no-stupid’ policy.”

Deputy fire chief Roy Hollett clarified Friday that his department was investigating the incidents and would determine whether to lay charges “within the next day or two.”

Halifax Regional Police said in an email that they had not yet issued a summary offence ticket for any burn violations. “Given the situation, the public should expect enforcement should we have evidence to support a violation,” police said.

The burn ban is in place until June 25 or until conditions allow it to be lifted.

Under the woods activity ban, hiking, camping, fishing and the use of vehicles is not permitted. People can still access beaches and provincial and municipal parks, but trail systems are off limits, while camping is allowed only in campgrounds.

That ban is also in place until June 25.

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