A panorama of the Alberni Valley shows the smoke effect from last year. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

New open burning restrictions take effect in Alberni Valley

Rules aimed at reducing harmful particulate in populated areas

MIKE YOUDS

SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

New open burning regulations could make a visible improvement in Alberni Valley air quality this fall if new restrictions are respected.

The new OBSCR — which stands for Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation — came into effect Sept. 15, coinciding with the traditional season for pile burning by land owners and industry.

“The purpose of the new regulations is to ensure the least amount of impact with a geographical area,” said Anna Lewis, chair of the Port Alberni Air Quality Council, a local body focused on improving air quality since 2003.

Nanaimo-based meteorologist Earle Plain of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy met last week with the local council to provide an overview of the changes.

“The difference with the new regulations is in high smoke sensitivity areas and that applies to the whole Alberni Valley,” Plain said.

There are more restrictions around populated areas and fewer restrictions in outlying areas, he noted. Two key changes are increased fire setbacks and reduced burning times. Category 3 or so-called pile burning has to be a minimum of 500 metres from a neighbouring residence or building and 1,000 metres from a school or care facility.

Open burning is the largest source of fine, suspended particulate matter known at PM 2.5. Port Alberni, Duncan and Courtenay are the most seriously affected communities on the Island, exceeding national air quality standards. Open burning and residential wood burning are largely to blame. Smoke levels tend to peak in November when open burning is most common.

In the past, open burning was permitted for periods of three to four days; now it’s allowed for a maximum of 36 hours and there are new provisions to encourage single-day fires.

The new rules — which apply only to wood larger than 10 centimetres in diameter — are designed to reduce smouldering and smoke buildup that typically occurs when the sun goes down and winds drop, Plain said. Instead, they encourage small, hot fires for more efficient combustion and reduced smoke.

Conservation officers are responsible for enforcing the regulations on the basis of public complaints.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Five Vancouver Island First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

City of Port Alberni to move forward with ‘Quay to Quay’ pathway

Port Alberni city council has proposed connecting Victoria Quay to Harbour Quay

BC Hydro urges caution over planned flow increases on Ash River

River flow increases will assist fish migration, but could pose safety risk to humans

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Indigenous regalia stolen from car in Port Alberni

RCMP are asking for information on three ceremonial items

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Nanaimo woman will buy ‘supersonic’ hair dryer after $500,000 lotto win

Debra Allen won $500,000 in July 28 Lotto Max draw

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

Cougar euthanized after attacking little dog in Qualicum area

Owner freed pet by whacking big cat, but dog didn’t survive the attack

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

Most Read