Frequently Asked Questions
When is a burning permit required?
A burning permit is required for any property that is: 1) located within the urban containment boundary, and 2) at least 2 acres in size. Backyard burning is entirely prohibited on properties within the UCB that are less than 2 acres in size. Backyard burning is allowed without a permit on properties outside the UCB. In all cases, the venting index must be "good" and burning windows must be followed.
How do I find out if my property is located within the Urban Containment Boundary (UCB)?
The urban containment boundary is defined in the Official Community Plan as those areas within the Municipality that are designated for urban growth and development, while areas outside the UCB are designated to remain rural. Approximately 8% of the land base in North Cowichan is within the UCB and 92% is outside of the UCB. You can use our online map tool to confirm if your property is within the UCB.
Why is open burning largely prohibited within the UCB?
Recent studies have found that 53% of total PM2.5 emissions in the Cowichan Valley resulted from open burning. North Cowichan has significantly restricted open burning within the urban containment boundaries because these areas have the highest density of homes and businesses that can be adversely affected by smoke.
I live in the UCB on less than 2 acres. What can I do with my yard waste?
See our page on Alternatives to Open Burning for ideas!
What are the burning windows?
The Spring burn window is March 15 - April 15. The Fall burn window is September 15 - November 30.
Can I have small fires or campfires in my backyard?
Unless there is a complete campfire ban issued by the provincial Wildfire Management Branch, then campfires (less than 0.5m3) are allowed throughout the Municipality, including within the UCB. See our page on Campfires for more info.
What are air quality advisories and how often are they in place?
Air quality advisories are issued by Island Health when pollutant concentrations approach or exceed pre-determined limits. Air aquality advisories occur infrequently in the Cowichan Valley (a total of 12 days since 2013). Click Here to see a list of active air quality advisories in BC and more detailed information on when and why they are issued.
Will North Cowichan subsidize hydro costs during air quality advisories when the use of wood burning appliances is prohibited?
No, air quality advisories occur infrequently and the increase in hydro costs to residents during these times will be minimal.
What about the pollution from vehicles and industrial sources?
Recent air quality studies show that 14% of PM2.5 emissions come from the pulp and paper industry and only 6% come from the transportation sector. As such, North Cowichan's air quality initiatives are focused on reducing open burning and wood stove space heating, as these collectively account for 77% of PM2.5 emissions in the Valley.
Are woodstove exchange rebates available?
Yes, there is currently a Woodstove Exchange Program in place through the CVRD that North Cowichan residents may qualify for. Rebates of up to $350 may be available for exchanging an old, uncertified woodstove (pre-1994). Newer woodstoves can reduce emissions by up to 87%! For information, see the CVRD's Burn it Smart webpage.