Air Quality

2017 - Proposed Changes to Fire Protection Bylaw

On July 19, 2017, North Cowichan Council gave first and second reading to a number of recommendations to amend the Municipality‚Äôs existing Fire Protection Bylaw in order to help improve air qualityThe proposed changes will help to reduce the most harmful emissions within the municipality's control. The changes being considered are:

  1. Residential open burning would be prohibited within the Urban Containment Boundaries (UCB's) of North Cowichan (with exceptions for registered farms and parcels of land >2 acres).  Burning permits will be issued for properties that are greater than 2 acres in size within the UCB (free of charge).  Click Here to see an interactive map of the UCB's
  2. Residential open burning windows would be eliminated to encourage burning when the Ministry of Environments Venting Index is rated as "Good".  Burning activities will only be allowed when the Provincial Government allows Category 2 or 3 fires.
  3. Large land clearing debris burns (i.e. Category 3 - where piles are greater than 2m high x 3m wide or where multiple piles are being burned concurrently) within the Municipality would be prohibited, unless an air curtain burner is being used.
  4. The use of wood-burning appliances for heating will not be affected other than being prohibited during extended periods where air quality health advisories are in effect.  Air quality advisories are issued by Island Health and have only been in effect for a total of 12 days since 2013. Exemptions are provided for homes where a wood burning appliance is the only source of heating.
  5. The liability of open fires would be placed onto property owners or occupiers, rather than the individual who lit the fire and;
  6. An incremental fine system has been established to discourage repeat offenders of open burning-related infractions.  The initial fine amount has been lowered to $250 and second and third offences will be $500 and $1000; respectively.
  7. Campfires (less than 24 inches in diameter) will still be allowed, provided a fire ban is not in effect for the Coastal Fire Zone.

Council is expected to give the bylaw its third reading at the regular council meeting on September 6, when they will also hear input from the community. Residents are encouraged to email their input and comments to

To read more detailed information and frequently asked questions regarding the proposed changes to the Fire Protection Bylaw please click here