Getting Ready for Spring: Part 1 – Barbeques

Does your condominium corporation permit barbeques on the common elements and/or balconies? If not, does your condominium have an adequate provision in its declaration or rules restricting this activity?

Many condominium corporations pass a rule to prohibit all barbeques on balconies. In our view, such a rule is valid and enforceable in most cases. Sometimes, a condominium corporation will only limit the types of barbeques permitted. Whenever barbeques are permitted, a condominium should have a rule in place regulating the use of any barbeques (and in particular, on balconies).

A well drafted rule will address issues such as: types of barbeques permitted (electric, propane, charcoal), and steps that an owner must follow for addressing fire prevention, safety, inspection of equipment, nuisance issues, and various other matters.

While all barbeques are a potential fire hazard (which is one of the reasons that rules governing use are recommended), it is important to be aware that there are specific restrictions on the use of propane barbeques. The TSSA (Technical Standards and Safety Authority) regulates the use of propane barbeques. The specific regulations, as well as other important safety tips regarding the use of fuel burning barbeques, can be found on websites for the TSSA and the City of Ottawa. Below are some of the key points to remember:

  • Electric barbeques are often preferred for condominium balconies;
  • Be aware of the risks of carbon monoxide for fuel burning barbeques. These barbeques are not permitted in an enclosed space (such as an enclosed balcony, or, for townhouse condominiums, in an attached garage);
  • Propane cylinders must be stored outdoors. The release valve must be at least one metre horizontally from any building opening below it (doors and windows) and three metres from a building air intake;
  • Propane cylinders must be transported in service elevators. If there are no service elevators, only the person transporting the cylinder is allowed in the passenger elevator;
  • Barbeques must be kept clear of all combustible materials;
  • Never leave a barbeque unattended when in use.

The consequences of improper barbeque use can be profound due to carbon monoxide and fire risks. On a condominium balcony, improper use of a barbeque, leading to a fire, can result in damage to the common elements and units, and is a threat to the life safety of residents. Ensure that your Condominium Corporation has rules in place regarding barbeques and that residents follow them!