Land Clearing/Machine Pile Burning Regulations 

Category-3 (Land Clearing/Machine Pile)

Permits shall be valid only for the location and time period indicated and shall be revoked immediately if the holder fails to comply with the provisions listed below, at the discretion of the Fire Chief, or duly authorized representative. Category-3 burning shall comply with the Environmental Management ActOpen Burning Smoke Control Regulation (OBSCR), Open Burning Smoke Control Code of Practice, the Wildfire Act and the Wildfire Regulations. SSIFR Bylaw No 125 Open Burning prescribes burning regulations on Salt Spring Island.

Highlights of provincial and local burn regulations include:

  • A machine (of suitable size in relation to the size of the pile) must be on site during the burn, 24-hour contact information for the machine operator must be provided. All fires shall be continuously supervised and controlled. No machine-pile fires shall be permitted during Burn Bans.
  • Burn no more than 6 days in a month, for a maximum of 12 days in a year, on a single property.
  • No person shall burn prohibited materials such as Noxious Materials or Garbage (see the B.C. Open Burn Smoke Control Regulation factsheet for information on Prohibited Materials).
  • Burn only seasoned vegetative debris (has been dried so that moisture content is less than 30%; has been put in piles for at least four months; or has originated from standing dead timber). All material must originate from the property where it was burned.
  • The ventilation index for your location must be “GOOD” on the day of the burn. Start time is at least one hour after sunrise; end time is 4 p.m. or two hours before sunset, whichever is later. If you want to burn for a second day, the ventilation index for your location must be “GOOD” or “FAIR” for the second day. To obtain a ventilation index for your location, call 1-888-281-2992 or see the B.C. Ventilation Index Forecast.
  • Material may only be added up to four hours before sunset on the first day of the burn. No material may be added on the second day of the burn.
  • You must meet setbacks. A setback is the measured distance between your burn pile and the nearest resident, or business (500m); or to a school, hospital, or community care facility (1000m).

Reduced Setbacks

If all the following OBSCR conditions are met, you may burn a machine pile using the reduced setbacks:

  • Only burn vegetative debris smaller than 50 cm in diameter. Burning stumps is not permitted.  
  • Provide notice at least 24 hours in advance to occupants and managers of residences, businesses, schools, hospitals and community care facilities within 500 m of the burn piles. Notification includes phones calls, signs at the site, fliers distributed to residents, and print sources such as newspaper, community boards or social media.
  • Keep a written record of when the vegetative debris was piled.
  • Obtain a ventilation index for your location (1-888-281-2992 or see the B.C. Ventilation Index Forecast. The index must be “GOOD” on the day of your burn.
  • Complete your burn within one day. Burn start time is at least one hour after sunrise. Burn end time is 4p.m. or two hours before sunset on the same day the burn, whichever is later.
  • Reduced setbacks are at least 100 m from all neighbouring residences or businesses. Reduced setbacks are at least 500 m from schools, hospitals, and community care facilities.

Enforcement/Cost Recovery

Violations of the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation may result in fines of up to $200,000. Compliance with the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation is enforced by the BC Conservation Officer Service. The property owner and machine operator are responsible for keeping informed about changing regulations & guidelines.

The permit holder will be responsible for all the damage caused by lit fires. Permits will be revoked upon violation of its restrictions. If the Fire Department is called to a fire at the burn location, permitted or not, the property owner or occupant will be responsible to pay all costs incurred for the fire call as determined by the Fire Chief. All liability relating to this burn location is the responsibility of the contractor and property owner.

For more information about the B.C. Open Burn Smoke Control Regulation or Open Burning Bylaw 125, see: