New open burning regulations in effect for RDCO

Open burning will be allowed for eligible property owners with permits from local fire department

October 1 marks the beginning of open burning season for eligible property owners with permits from their local fire department.

But this year, before lighting any fire, anyone with a permit issued by their local fire department is also required to separately ensure compliance with new regulations imposed by the province.

The B.C. Ministry of Environment put the new Provincial Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation into effect on Sept. 15. It divides the province into zones, of which the Central Okanagan is classified as high sensitivity.

“Many new requirements must be met including new setbacks near neighbouring properties, hospitals, schools and health care facilities,” said a release from the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO).

“As well, they must make efforts to reduce the amount of vegetative debris to be burned through alternative methods (reducing, reusing or recycling).”

Under the Regional District Smoke Control Bylaw, 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 Central Okanagan 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.

The BC Ministry of Environment has detailed information available on its website to assist any property owner to comply with its regulations.

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The RDCO encourages all residents to consider cleaner air alternatives to open burning.

Coordinator Nancy Mora Castro said many options exist that don’t require outdoor burning including:

  • Starting this year the bi-weekly curbside yard waste collection program runs an extra month through December. Only place leaves, grass, pine needles and small prunings inside the yard waste cart with the green lid closed.
  • The yard waste drop off program is available at the Glenmore landfill and Westside Residential Waste Disposal and Recycling Centre (Asquith Road in West Kelowna). Fees apply. When transporting loads for disposal, please make sure they are covered.
  • Mow-Chip Rent-it Rebate program – Qualifying participants must have a property one hectare or greater in size with a small volume of wood for fuel reduction and/or agricultural activities that can’t be served through the regular Agricultural Chipping Program. The Regional Air Quality Program provides up to 80% of the cost of renting mow/chip equipment or services up to a $500 maximum. Visit the Mow-Chip Rent-it program for more information and an online application. Depending on your needs, you can hire a contractor or rent your own machine. Search online (wood chipping, stump grinding, tree service, machine rentals, etc.) to find a company that suits your needs.
  • Air Curtain Burning uses forced air to burn wood faster and with less smoke. Contact your local Fire Department to learn more about forced air incineration options for agricultural or land clearing wood waste
  • A number of private companies offer wood chipping and grinding services or rent portable chippers. Some may also pick up yard waste for disposal.

She said, “if a property owner cannot use any of these alternatives and they have a permit to burn under local bylaws from their fire department and they meet the new BC Environment Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation they should follow the Best Practices for open burning,” including:

  • On days when conditions allow for open burning, light fires after 10:00 am when venting conditions are usually more favourable;
  • Pruning’s, branches and stumps 10 centimetres diameter or greater should be dried for a minimum of two years or have a moisture content less than 30%;
  • Smaller piles (3 metres wide x 3 metres long and 2 metres high) allow better control of fires and help reach proper dryness.


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