Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation

Effective September 15, 2019 there will be substantial changes to the B.C. Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation (OBSCR) affecting residents on Salt Spring Island.

Changes to the B.C. Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation (OBSCR) starting on September 15, 2019 will affect open burning for residents of SSI as follows: essentially all open burning except campfires will now be regulated by the OBSCR (previously, only Category 3, machine piles were effectively regulated). Restrictions for Machine Piles are also increased.

Note that campfires and open burning of material smaller than 10 cm in diameter will not be affected by changes to the OBSCR. However, the new OBSCR will restrict most open burning on much of the island (new setbacks) for much of the year (new seasoning and venting requirements).

Backyard burning of material 10cm or larger in diameter will now require “good” venting (currently we average 1-2 days of “good” venting per month); there will be greater set-back distances from neighbors (100-500m), schools and care facilities (500-1000m from property line); and seasoning is now required (allow material to dry for four months). Burning will only be permitted 12 days per year (and only 6 days in any month) at each property. Residents will need to notify neighbors to achieve reduced setback distances. All open burning must be completed by 4 pm or two-hours before sunset, whichever is later.

Machine piles (Category 3) will now require larger setback distances from neighbors (500m), schools and care facilities (1000m from property line), and seasoning is now required (four months). Burning will also only be permitted 12 days per year (and only 6 days in any month). Maximum burn period is now reduced to two days (from 72 hours). Material may only be added until four hours before sunset on the day burning starts.

Machine piles will also require additional new records: number of piles per site, size of each pile, volume of vegetative material burned, date of ignition, and venting forecast on date of ignition.

There are exceptions:

  • The OBSCR is not in effect for campfires.
  • If an open burn (for domestic or agricultural purposes) contains vegetative debris with branches less than 10 cm in diameter, then only some sections of the OBSCR apply (essentially no functional differences from the existing SSIFR Open Burning Bylaw 125). Less than 10 cm is a 2×4” or smaller.
  • Setbacks from houses, schools and care facilities (like hospitals) can be reduced (to distances of 100m to residences and 500m to schools and care-facility property lines) if the open burn does not contain stumps and the neighbors have been notified (24 hours or more).
  • Open burning of diseased vegetation or open burning as part of a Community Wildfire Risk Reduction plan are exempt from some parts of the OBSCR. There are also provisions for Air Curtain Incinerators (none on SSI).

With these new changes to the Regulations will come some adjustments for many residents and our goal is to help educate and assist those with alternatives to burning and how to burn as per the new rules.  This transition will take some time and more follow up information and support will be provided to all.

The SSIFPD Open Burning Bylaw 125 permits will need to be changed to accommodate the following:

  • Open-Burning permits (except campfires and small backyard burns) should be issued for only the day of use and they will now require “good” venting. Residents would only conduct open burning 12 times per year (maximum six in one month).
  • All open burning (except campfires) must be completed by 4 pm or two-hours before sunset, whichever is later.
  • Backyard open burning should be divided into two categories: A) Small – less than 10cm in diameter, B) Large -10 cm or larger in diameter (anything bigger than a 2×4).
  • Machine piles and “Large” Backyard burns with branches 10 cm or larger (B) require “good” venting and new setbacks.
  • Open-burning setbacks are 500m to residences and 1000m to property lines of schools and care facilities – unless there are no stumps neighbors are notified, in which case setbacks are 100m to residences and 500m to schools and care facilities (permit should indicate notification of neighbors).
  • Machine pile permits will only allow machine operators to add new material up to four hours before sunset on the day of ignition. Machine-pile permits will now be two-days maximum.
  • Machine pile permits will need to include number of piles, size of piles, a record of venting.
  • Machine-pile permits must now be kept on site and be available for inspection during burning.

 

RESOURCES:

SSIFPD Open Burning Bylaw 125
http://www.saltspringfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Open-Burning-Bylaw-No.-125.pdf

Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation Review
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/natural-resource-stewardship/laws-policies-standards-guidance/legislation-regulation/environmental-protection-regulatory-review/open-burning-smoke-control-regulation

Sensitivity Zones (South West BC) Map
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/natural-resource-policy-legislation/legislation-regulation/open-burning-smoke-regulation/bc_obscr_overview_map2.pdf

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