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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.

Tree-trimming

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!

NOT - NEVER - NO

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 an open burn (ie: land clearing, yard waste, commercial burn), please take note of the address/location of the burn, take photos if you can and contact the conservation officer right away. People who open burn tend to be repeat offenders. Only by reporting it to conservation officer will the offender change their ways. You can report annoynamously online or over the phone.

Report a burn online OR call the 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
604-885-8486
or 604-885-8480
jbowers@sechelt.ca

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
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News on this topic from around North America

  • Open burning ban lifted

    Sat, 22 Nov 2014 21:23:39 -0800 Open burning is once again permitted in the Kamloops Fire Centre. The Wildfire Management Branch lifted the open fire ban at noon on Oct. 15.
  • Open-burning ban lifted for Cowichan

    Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:57:53 -0800 Rains spell improved air quality after week-long burning restrictions by province, Island Health
  • Improved air quality allows for lifting of burning ban

    Fri, 21 Nov 2014 09:40:32 -0800 Overnight rain served as a "cleansing"
  • Cowichan-wide burning ban extended

    Thu, 20 Nov 2014 09:42:53 -0800 No new fires nor adding burnables for three more days, within 15 kilometres of Duncan, due to high smoke, pollution levels
  • Calfire lifts ag burn ban in county

    Mon, 17 Nov 2014 23:38:21 -0800 The state firefighting agency has lifted agricultural burning restrictions in San Benito County following recent rainy weather, according to a Calfire press statement.
  • Open-burning ban ordered across Cowichan

    Mon, 17 Nov 2014 09:59:14 -0800 High smoke levels, vehicle and business pollution, force three-day burning ban, ill residents at higher risk
  • Calfire lifts burn ban in county

    Sun, 16 Nov 2014 17:38:30 -0800 The state firefighting agency has lifted burning restrictions in San Benito County following recent rainy weather, according to a Calfire press statement.
  • Outdoor fires become burning issue in Allegheny County

    Sat, 01 Nov 2014 18:19:11 -0700 Backyard fire pits and fireplaces meld the great outdoors with the comforts of home, experts said. As sales increase, neighbors’ complaints about unwanted smoke and ...
  • Alternatives to burning leaves encouraged by Indiana environmental group

    Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:54:39 -0700 As the leaves start to fall the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is reminding Hoosiers that there are alternative ways to dispose of leaves other than burning. A press release by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management said Indiana restricts what can be burned and has a limit on how residents can burn leaves. The department encourages residents, however, to take ...
  • Burn ban to be suspended

    Mon, 27 Oct 2014 22:20:33 -0700 Fort Dodge residents will be able to burn yard waste for nine days beginning Saturday as a result of City Council action. The council voted 5-2 on Monday to temporarily lift the ban on open burning from Saturday through Nov. 9.