Katzie backyard burns irk Pitt Meadows neighbours

Residents complaining about heavy smoke, black soot from bonfires

A Katzie First Nation resident snapped this photo last year of a plume of black smoke wafting over houses on the reserve. Complaints by band members and nearby residents have fallen on deaf ears.

A Katzie First Nation resident snapped this photo last year of a plume of black smoke wafting over houses on the reserve. Complaints by band members and nearby residents have fallen on deaf ears.

The City of Pitt Meadows plans to meet with the Katzie First Nation following complaints from nearby residents about backyard burning on reserve land.

Residents of Osprey Village say the bonfires are forcing them to close their windows to avoid thick, black smoke which often deposits soot on their cars.

“We have no jurisdiction on First Nation land and I know it is frustrating to our residents,” said Mayor Deb Walters.

“All we can do is be their voice and continue to lobby.”

Walters was set to meet with the Katzie First Nations on Friday to discuss the complaints.

The city has also forwarded the complaints to Conservative MP Randy Kamp.

“First Nations land is governed by the federal government and I felt he should be aware of the situation,” said Walters.

“If there are noxious or toxic fumes, the RCMP will intervene and call the Pitt Meadows Fire Department if necessary.”

Burning on the First Nation, however, has been an issue for years, according to the Pitt Meadows Fire Department, which refers complaints from city residents to the Ridge Meadows RCMP.

Although the fire department has a service agreement with the Katzie to provide fire protection on reserve lands, it is unable to stop the backyard burning because there is no bylaw.

“I know the RCMP are trying to mediate some resolution to it because it is impacting them,” said fire chief Don Jolley.

The Katzie First Nation assures Pitt Meadows residents their concerns are being heard.

Chief Ed Pierre said it’s all about communication and hopes relationships can improve between the band and city.

“It is being looked at,” added Pierre.