With the summer season finally upon us, so is the barbecue season. With it, come questions pertaining to BBQ safety and neighbourly etiquette. This is particularly true in condominium living and even more so when one lives in a mid to high-rise complex, where occupants have the exclusive use of a balcony. A recurring question is whether BBQs are allowed on terraces and balconies. The answer will vary from one municipality to the other and, within the same city, from one condominium corporation to the other.
Before firing up the grill, you should consult both your municipal by-laws and the corporation’s governing documents.
Check Your Municipal By-laws
A quick research on your municipality’s website will easily provide you with some guidance on whether BBQs are permitted on balconies. Notably, the cities of Ottawa, Toronto, Mississauga and London appear to have no by-law prohibiting them. It is interesting to note that both Toronto and Ottawa acknowledge that Condominium corporations have the legal authority to prohibit barbecuing on their property.
The city of Guelph, on the other hand, specifically prohibits the use of any kind of BBQs on balconies if the corporation has more than 2 dwelling units. Similarly, the City of Kitchener also prohibits the use of BBQs on balconies. What is prohibited under Kitchener’s Municipal Fire Code (section 736.4.3) is the starting of a fire in a grill or barbecue for the purpose of cooking food on a balcony of any building containing two or more dwellings. Their Fire Department advised us that electric grills are permissible provided that they are otherwise allowed by the landlord or by the condominium corporation.
It is therefore important that you verify the rules applicable to your city or municipality.
Check Your Condo’s Governing Documents
Regardless of whether a city allows BBQs on balconies, condominium corporations can prohibit them. Such prohibition can be found either in the corporation’s declaration or in its rules. Indeed, boards may adopt rules to promote the safety, security and welfare of occupants or to prevent unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of the common elements and units of the corporation. BBQing on a balcony can represent both a hazard and a disturbance to neighbours.
Some corporations allow the use of electric BBQs only, while newer corporations allow combustion BBQs by having them directly hooked into the building’s natural gas supply. Finally, other corporations may prohibit BBQs all together. Some of them do it to prevent smoke and smell disturbance between neighbours, others because their insurance policy will not permit it. It is important to verify your corporation’s position on this.
Other provincial regulations
Having stated the above, keep in mind that propane fuelled BBQs are regulated by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (“TSSA”), which provides the following requirements:
- BBQs are approved for outdoor use only;
- Propane tanks must be safely stored, transported, connected and used. You may want to note that you must use the service elevator when transporting a propane tank or, if you do not have a service elevator, you must be alone in the elevator;
- BBQs must be kept clear of all combustible materials as listed on the BBQ rating plate or certified instructions and must be at least one metre away from any combustible materials;
- The propane tank relief valves must be at least one metre away from any building opening below it (including doors and windows) and at least three metres away from the air intake of any appliances or air-moving equipment. It must also be at least three metres from any source of ignition. On size alone, many balconies cannot accommodate these requirements.
Once you are satisfied that you can legally BBQ on your balcony, make sure you do it safely. In 2016, TSSA provided great tips on how to have a safe summer.
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