Central Saanich staff will be presenting Council with proposed burning bylaw changes this fall, prior to the burning season. Prior to, the public is invited to comment on the proposed changes, which are available for review at letstalkcentralsaanich.ca/burning.
The changes were drafted after receiving initial public input on air burning in Central Saanich this spring; they include: burning will not be determined by day of the week, but by whether atmospheric conditions are favourable for burning (based on the provincial venting index, available online), the length of the winter burning season will be slightly extended, bona fide agricultural fires will now include land clearing, and new fire category types of open air fires (aligned with the provincial definitions) are accompanied by restrictions around when and how they can occur.
Campfires/recreational fires would be permitted year-round with the exception of during fire bans. There are three levels of disposal fire: Yard Waste Fire, Category 2 Fire and Category 3 Fire, which could take place from October 15 to May 15 and will continue to require a permit from the Fire Department along with restrictions on size, placement and the length of burn time.
“We heard from the community that some have distinct burning needs, but there are also strong concerns about air quality,” said Fire Chief Chris Vrabel. “By moving away from only burning on certain days and instead burning based on when the venting conditions are good, we can improve air quality and retain the ability to have yard waste disposal fires for those who require them.”
Vrabel was able to meet with 40 farmers during the Agricultural Topics open house at the Central Saanich Fire Station in May and received productive comments about agricultural burning needs.
The department began the review of the Open Air Burning Bylaw with the goal of improving air quality after Island Health flagged outdoor smoke as a health concern and has brought the matter to the attention of local municipalities. The bylaw was originally adopted in 1993 and restricts what materials can be burned, as well as where and when outdoor burning can take place.