Oct. 1 start of open burning season in Central Okanagan

Property owners require proper permits to carry out burning yard or farm property waste.

October 1 is the start of open burning season for eligible property owners with permits and only when air quality and venting conditions allow.

Open burning season in the Central Okanagan will begin Saturday, Oct.1,  when air quality and venting conditions are good for those property owners obtaining a permit from their local fire authority.

Under regional district and local fire bylaws permitted open burning season may start Oct. 1 and must be completed by April 30.  Fire chiefs may change these dates depending on the fire hazard in their area.

Eligible property owners must obtain a burning permit from their local fire department. Those eligible to burn within the four Central Okanagan East or Central Okanagan West electoral area fire districts may obtain a permit by calling the regional district at 250-469-6223 (long dstance collect calls are accepted) weekdays only between 8  a.m. and 4  p.m., excluding holidays.

Before lighting any fire, property owners with a valid permit must call the toll-free Outdoor Burning Hotline:  1-855-262-2876 (BURN) to determine if open burning is allowed on a particular day.  Both the venting and air quality conditions must be good in order for burning to occur within Central Okanagan fire jurisdictions.  This information will also be available each day after 8 a.m. at regionaldistrict.com/airquality.

Under the Regional District Smoke Control Bylaw, creating nuisance smoke from open burning is not allowed in the City of Kelowna, the District of Lake Country, City of West Kelowna and the Central Okanagan East and West Electoral Areas or under the bylaws of the District of Peachland.  Yard waste such as leaves, pine needles, grass clippings, weeds and other garden waste are not allowed to be burned.

Violators could receive a fine or be charged with the cost of putting out the fire.  Residents are encouraged to report anyone illegally burning on a non-burning day by calling the Regional Fire Dispatch Center at 250-469-8577.

Those property owners eligible to burn should follow this Best Practices Guide to reduce smoke:

•   If conditions allow open burning, ignite fires after 10:00 am when venting conditions are usually more favourable;

•  Prunings, branches and stumps must be dried for a minimum of two years; and

•  Make smaller piles with good air ventilation for more efficient burning.

All Central Okanagan property owners regardless of property size are encouraged to use other clean air options to dispose of their yard waste.   The bi-weekly curbside yard waste collection program is underway through the end of November and residents are reminded to only place leaves, grass, pine needles and small pruning’s inside their wheeled yard waste cart with the green lid closed.

Residents may also use the year-round free yard waste drop off program at the Glenmore landfill (Open seven days a week 7:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.— up to 250 kilograms (550 pounds) and 20 centimeters or less in diameter may be dropped off for free— fees apply to yard waste loads exceeding the free maximum weight and diameter).

Fees apply for yard waste disposal at the Westside Residential Waste Disposal Centre (Open 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Monday).  When transporting loads for disposal, please make sure they are covered.  As well, a number of private companies offer wood chipping and grinding services or rent portable chippers.  Some may also pick up yard waste for disposal.

Agricultural burning is allowed under Provincial Right to Farm legislation and accounts for most of the burning permits issued in the Central Okanagan.   However, before starting any fire farmers must also call 1-855-262-2876 (BURN) or visit regionaldistrict.com/airquality to ensure burning can take place on a particular day.

The Regional Air Quality Program is working in cooperation with farmers to encourage the use of the Agricultural Chipping Program as an alternate disposal method.   The program offers a Best Management Practices handbook and DVD to help farmers.  Funding is still available for farmers who wish to participate this year in the chipping program.   As well, registration is underway for those who would like to take part in the program during 2017.  Please contact the Regional Air Quality Coordinator at 250-469-8408 or email airquality@kelowna.ca.

Central Okanagan residents are reminded to check with their local fire jurisdiction regarding regulations and restrictions regarding campfires, chimineas and other outdoor wood fire burning devices.  Campfires are not allowed at any time within the City of Kelowna.