City councillor Scott Anderson said he’d not only like to see the Polson Park fire pit project return next year, but he’d also like to see it expanded.
A trial was conducted over the winter months allowing families to get outdoors under pandemic restrictions and use their propane fire pits in Polson Park.
Although a city report shows it wasn’t well used.
Anderson said if this were to return, he’d like to see more advertising and an expansion onto public beaches.
“I’d like to see what it looks like in the days where the lake freezes over and people can bring their skates,” Anderson told the Morning Star Thursday, April 15.
He said while it’s encouraging there were no complaints, he’d like to see more opportunities like this in a variety of locations.
“We need to trust people won’t set themselves on fire,” he said. “People go through life without doing that, it’s quite doable.”
“Honestly, I think we’re a little too cautious as an administration,” Anderson said, noting while it’s important to be conscious of liability issues and risk “sometimes it’s taken a little too far. In this case, it certainly was.”
Fire pits are one part of Anderson’s vision for Polson Park. He said he’d like to see Vernon follow what other municipalities are doing such as Penticton, Kelowna and Calgary.
“My vision is to provide an ice rink and things that attract people. The fire pits are really a parcel of that,” he said, adding he’d like to see food trucks join in as well if demand is high enough.
While one group has confirmed they took advantage of the opportunity to warm up in Polson Park between Jan. 25 and April 5, city staff said no incidents or fire-pit use was noted through daily spot checks by Vernon bylaw, parks and fire staff.
For those with no propane fire pits of their own, or backyard to use them in, Anderson said city-provided pits could be an option.
“I think anything could be considered,” he said, underscoring obvious issues of cost and potential theft. “But if the city were to start installing theft-proof gas pits, there are a number of issues surrounding that.”
The project, pitched by Anderson, cost the City of Vernon around $2,000 in legal fees and signage and an estimated 20 hours of staff time.
“I took what I could get this year and it was probably too small,” Anderson said, adding he’d like to “take a bigger bite” next year.