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open burning
BC-Government Information: Backyard burning is under municipal jurisdiction. The provincial government cannot regulate it, but it does offer technical and educational information.

Many municipal bylaws dealing with backyard burning are for fire protection, and often are not intended to protect air quality. Recently, though, several municipalities have passed bylaws that ban backyard burning, or only allow the burning of dry, garden refuse under strict rules and on certain days.

There are real health hazards that are caused by particulate matter that is created from open burning and these particulates also play a major role in accelerating global warming. With so many alternatives in this day and age to open burning, the Clean Air Society is against all open burning on the Sunshine Coast.

What we can do as citizens:

Compost and mulch

If you are in need of good soil prepare your own - the Sunshine Coast is a rocky place!

A good aged compost gives very healthy soil antagonistic to many soilborne pests and diseases. Your yard residue can be taken to composting facilities at the dump as well. There you can get composted material for your garden. Just grow rye or oats for few cycles and seasons and this compost will turn into proper soil.

Super Natural

B.C. is proud of its beautiful nature. There is no urgent need to get a groomed forest, spotless lawn, or immaculate garden. Great gardeners know how to use mother Nature's smart ideas and ecological mechanisms to make plants grow properly. Nature has no garbage, no waste and no leftovers.


Don't save money on the wrong end. Instead of burning the debris get tree-trimming services to chop or dispose.

Rent chipping machines

If it is costly ask in your neighbourhood for a 'joined chipping event'. Add some coffee and cookies and it becomes a party!


Don't burn any garbage or toxic materials like tires, plastics, construction and demolition waste, treated and painted wood, and rubber. You cannot see the toxins in the smoke, but they are there.

Prohibited burning materials

To prevent the release of dangerous toxins, the following materials must not be burned:

  • tires
  • plastics
  • drywall
  • demolition waste
  • domestic waste (household material and food waste not including newspaper and cardboard)
  • special waste
  • biomedical waste
  • asphalt and asphalt products
  • treated lumber
  • railway ties
  • manure
  • rubber
  • paint and paint products
  • tar paper
  • fuel and lubricant containers.
If you suspect an illegal burn, please report it. See below.

Report a burn

When the ventilation index for a given area has a rating of 54 or below, it is illegal to open burn anywhere on the Sunshine Coast. The Sunshine Coast falls under the Central Vancouver Island jurisdiction for the venting index. A burn also should be reported if prohibited materials are being burned (see prohibited material list above).

If the burn you are reporting is a land clearing or commercial burn, contact the conservation officer and leave a message.

Conservation officer: 1-877-952-7277

For all other burns contact your local fire department:

Egmont: 604-883-2555
Gibsons: 604-885-6870 Halfmoon Bay: 604-885-5712
Madeira Park: 604-883-9011 Garden Bay: 604-883-9922
Malaspina: 604-487-9911
Port Mellon: 604-884-5222
Roberts Creek: 604-885-6871

For Sechelt residents, please contact the by-law officer:

Jane Bowers
or 604-885-8480

You can also utilize our Neighbourly Notification Program. See below:

Neighbourly Notification Program

It's not always easy to approach a neighbour whose burning habits are causing you difficulties. Maybe you have already approached the neighbour and have been dismissed or treated with disrespect. This purpose of the Neighbourly Notification Program is first, to target directly the producer of smoke with educational materials and advice to make them aware that such actions are affecting their neighbours and community. Second, to remove the burden of direct complaint from the individual(s) affected by the burning. These complaints might include; back yard burns, use of a burn barrel, construction burns, slash burns, and excessive chimney smoke.

What can we do?

We have drafted a series of form letters that will be sent out by the SCCAS advising the people responsible for the smoke that neighbours have asked the SCCAS to send this letter to inform the person about the consequences of their burning methods. The letter will also include greener and healthier alternatives to the burning methods they are using, educational information about the health hazards, and links and contacts where they can access more information.

Your personal information will not be released. Just send us an e mail to wenotify@cleanaironthecoast.com included your neighbour's address, including postal code and name, if possible. Tell us what type of burning is causing the issue and we will send a letter to them within 2 days.

From our blog

  • No Incineration Campaign on the Sunshine Coast
  • Air pollution ‘still harming Europeans’ health’
  • Clean Air Society August 2013 Newsletter
  • 10 Easy Steps for Clean Air Day
  • April Newsletter and update
  • Clean Air - Smells Good to Me
  • So Easy to Compost
  • Sechelt Bylaw to Phase in Banning of Open Air Burning
  • May 23rd: SCCAS presentation to the new Sechelt Council advocating a ban on developers’ burns
  • Open Burning video about Alberni Valley, Vancouver Island
  • Incineration of Garbage and Other Wastes
  • Working with the District of Sechelt toban land clearing burns by developers
  • ‘Black carbon’ key to tackling climate threat: UN report
  • Clean Air Society Involved in Effort to Ban Developers’ Burns
  • Burning Construction and Demolition Waste at HSPP - Green Energy? by SCCAS member Louis Legal
  • April 15th marks the start of Clean Air Season!
  • Removing one ton of black carbon will have the same effect as removing 2,000 to 3,000 tons of CO2
  • Progress and more progress for the SCCAS
  • Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Mill is burning plastic
  • Drop in U.S. air pollution linked to longer lifespans
     1 2 >

News on this topic from around North America

  • Briefly: July 18, 2014

    Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:48:17 -0700 Fire ban All open burning is now prohibited as the risk of wildfire increases.
  • City bucks fire ban

    Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:46:31 -0700 Campbell River Fire Chief says it's not that dry here as city allows small beach and backyard fires
  • U.S. troops in Afghanistan sent waste to open burn pits, report finds

    Mon, 21 Jul 2014 22:28:30 -0700 Although the U.S. has spent millions to build incinerators in Afghanistan to avoid exposing anyone to toxic smoke from open burning, American troops sent waste to an Afghan-operated open pit for five months last year, according to an inspector general’s report issued late Monday.
  • Air curtain destructors to be required for open burns in Columbia

    Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:38:18 -0700 Developers in Columbia burning vegetative or wood waste from land clearing operations will now be required to use air curtain destructors to help reduce pollution and smoke. Read more
  • Fire chief hopes to lift burn ban in August

    Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:07:51 -0700 Thanks to recent rains, Sandoval County Fire Chief has set Aug. 15 as a target date to life the current... more »
  • City of Terrace rescinds campfire ban

    Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:53:45 -0700 Campfires must be kept to a half-metre high by a half-metre wide or smaller, says the city.
  • Valley Fire bans open burning - Sat, 19 Jul 2014 PST

    Sat, 19 Jul 2014 01:24:48 -0700 Brush fires have been popping up all over Spokane Valley, a concern in the current hot and dry conditions. The Spokane Valley Fire Department declared a burn ban Thursday for the areas it serves, which includes the cities of Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake and Millwood. Outdoor recreational fires are now banned. Backyard barbecues are allowed, as are outdoor fireplaces as long as they are fitted ...
  • Wood Burning Ban is in Effect

    Fri, 18 Jul 2014 16:07:02 -0700 A wood burning ban has been put into effect due to the drought conditions in the West. “A wood burning ban is in place due to historic drought conditions and the 2014 fire season could be catastrophic and we need the communities help,” said South lake Tahoe Fire Department Fire Chief Jeff Meston.
  • B.C. wildfire roundup: new evacuation orders and alerts

    Thu, 17 Jul 2014 21:26:51 -0700 32 new wildfires broke out Thursday bringing the total number of fires burning in B.C. to more than 150. Of those, 16 are deemed significant wildfires prompting evacuation orders and alerts.
  • Penticton puts temporary ban on fires

    Thu, 17 Jul 2014 16:27:46 -0700 Due to the high fire danger rating in the area, the City of Penticton is implementing a temporary fire ban.
  • Fire season nears in Alberni

    Thu, 17 Jul 2014 12:25:14 -0700 Fire season has arrived early in the Alberni Valley, Port Alberni Fire Chief Tim Pley said.
  • Open fires now banned

    Thu, 17 Jul 2014 00:12:38 -0700 The dry hot weather has prompted the Coastal Fire Centre to issue a ban on all open burning (including campfires, category two open fires and category three open fires).