New open burning rules to protect people’s health, the environment
VICTORIA – Changes to when and where open burning can take place will help protect British Columbia’s air quality and people’s health by reducing fine particulate matter pollution.
The new Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation will come into effect on Sept. 15, 2019, in advance of the fall burning season. The new rules will oversee the open burning of logging slash and other vegetative debris. These rules will replace an outdated, one-size-fits-all regulation for burning throughout the province, regardless of the location or reason for burning.
“People and communities deserve to have clean air,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “That’s why we are putting new rules in place that will lessen health impacts and allow everyone to breathe a little easier. We are also incentivizing the use of newer and cleaner technology with rules that give more flexibility if advanced burning technology is used to cut pollution.”
New requirements to improve the protection of community air quality include more stringent rules in areas near communities, including shorter burn periods and a requirement to dry out debris, as well as larger setbacks from neighbours, schools and hospitals.
Open burning is the largest source of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution in the province. It contributes to poor air quality in communities and has a wide range of health impacts. Open burning contributes as much PM2.5 as transportation, wood heating and the wood-processing industry combined.
“Poor air quality can take a terrible toll on people living with respiratory and underlying health issues,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. “Given the difficult wildfire seasons our province has faced in recent years, initiatives like this to improve air quality are important, especially to seniors and children who are often the most at risk.”
Additionally, the new regulation allows communities more flexibility to conduct controlled burning to reduce fire hazards that could make them vulnerable to larger wildfires. Guidance documents are being finalized and will be available online in advance of the fall burning season, along with more information on the regulation.