How will my feedback be used?

Comments and suggestions will be compiled into a consultation summary report.

The District of Central Saanich council will consider the feedback received, and the results of the public consultation will be available in the spring of 2019.


Why is Open Air Burning Regulation 1091 under Review?

Island Health has flagged outdoor smoke as a health concern, and has brought this to the attention of local municipalities. Their letter states:

“…health effects from the resulting wood-smoke have become increasingly recognized. Wood smoke contains many of the same harmful substances that are found in tobacco smoke and is a significant source of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), a major component of air pollution and a detriment to health. When inhaled, PM2.5 embeds deep inside the tissue of the lung. Exposure is associated with a shortened lifespan, and can lead to lung cancer, reduced lung functioning and worsening of heart disease and asthma among those who suffer from these conditions.

Building upon existing research, a February 2017 Health Canada study (mcgill/newsroom/woodstoves), using air quality data from three BC cities (including Courtenay/Comox), found that an increase in fine particulate matter specifically due to wood burning in the winter was associated with a 19 percent increase in hospitalization for heart attacks among those 65 years or older. Local governments are uniquely positioned to lower PM2.5 emission, improve air quality and thus achieve better health outcomes...”

Further to improving air quality by reducing smoke levels in the community, we want to ensure  the restrictions in the currently 25 year old bylaw reflect climate change, reassess the risks associated with open air burning and create an easy to read document.

What types of open air burning are currently permissible?

1.  Recreational Fires – smaller than .5m by .5m with proper firewood

2.  Yard Waste Disposal Fires – smaller than 1m by 1m (branches, leaves and other vegetation)

3.  Open Air Fires – Larger than 1m by 1m (branches, leaves and other vegetation)

4.  Incinerators – Engineered devices for burning branches, leaves and other vegetation

5.  Land Clearing – removal of trees, stumps and brush for development or agricultural purposes

6. **Not under review**  Bona Fide Agricultural – Stack burning (greenhouses), control of diseased crops, crop residues and disposal of orchard and vineyard prunings, tree stumps, spoiled hay and straw, and brush piles from land which has been cleared. 

Are fires for agricultural purpose being reviewed?

No, open air burning and land development for the purpose of bona fide agricultural activities are not under review. 

When is open air burning currently permissible?

1.  Recreational Fires – 365 days a year unless a fire ban is in place

2.  Yard Waste Disposal Fires  (smaller than 1m by 1m (branches, leaves and other vegetation)

  i.  Thursdays & Fridays Sunrise to Sunset, Saturdays sunrise to noon

  ii.  Not on any statutory holiday

  iii.  May through October -  7.6m to property line and 60m to structures, combustibles or timber

  iv.  November through April – 7.6m to structures, combustibles or timber

  v.  Not permitted when fire ban in place

3.  Open Air Fires (Larger than 1m by 1m (branches, leaves and other vegetation)

  i.  Thursdays & Fridays Sunrise to Sunset, Saturdays sunrise to noon

  ii.  Not on any statutory holiday

  iii.  November through February  – 7.6m to property line and 61m to structures, combustibles or timber

  iv.  Not permitted when fire ban in place

4.  Incinerators

  i.  Thursdays & Fridays Sunrise to Sunset, Saturdays sunrise to noon

  ii.  Not on any statutory holiday

  iii.  November through April only – 1.5m to combustibles, 7.6m to structures

  iv.  Not permitted when fire ban in place

5.  Land Clearing - Burning of land clearing debris is regulated by the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation (Provincial regulation). The purpose of the OBSCR is to mitigate the negative effects of smoke on human health and property. It requires that operators ensure local air flow will not cause smoke to negatively impact a nearby population.

Its regulations include:  

  i.  Minimum fire set-back distances from hospitals, schools and other residences

  ii.  Allowable times and frequencies for ignition, burning and smoke release

  iii.  A list of prohibited materials including plastics, rubber, garbage, paint, treated wood, roofing materials and Drywall

  iv.  A burning prohibition unless the venting index is GOOD on the day of ignition, and GOOD or FAIR on the following day (can take place any day of the week)

6.  Bona Fide Agricultural

  i.  Must follow the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation

Can the municipality further restrict the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation?

Yes, a municipal bylaw can further restrict open air burning for purposes of nuisance, hazard or air quality. The exception being burning for bona fide agricultural activities cannot be restricted for nuisance reasons.

Is the municipality considering changing the days of the week that burning is allowed?

Yes, by allowing people to burn more wisely such as on days when the venting index is Good or Fair then the atmosphere is more likely to disperse the smoke.

What is the Ventilation Index?

The Ventilation Index is a term used in air pollution meteorology. (It is also known as the Venting Index.) The index is a numerical value related to the potential of the atmosphere to disperse airborne pollutants, such as smoke from an authorized fire.

Is the municipality considering alternatives for yard waste?

Yes, part of the review includes researching alternatives.