Fire Protection Bylaw: proposed changes and FAQs


On February 15, 2017, North Cowichan Council considered a number of recommendations to amend the Municipality's existing Fire Protection Bylaw that can help us support improved air quality. The proposed changes would help to reduce the most harmful emissions. There have been no changes made to the Bylaw at this time, but here's what's being considered:

  • Open burning would be prohibited within the Urban Containment Boundary (with limited exceptions for registered farms and parcels of land >2 acres).
  • Large land clearing debris burns (Category 3 - piles greater than 2x3m) within the Municipality would be prohibited unless air curtain burners are being used.
  • The use of wood-burning appliances would be prohibited during air quality advisories, unless it is the only source of heat for that dwelling. Air quality advisories are issued by Island Health and have only been in effect for a total of 12 days since 2013.
  • The liability of open fires would be placed onto property owners or occupiers, rather than the individual who lit the fire.
  • An incremental fine system would be established to discourage repeat offenders for open burning-related infractions.

Quick Facts

  • Recent air quality studies conducted in the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) have found that particulate matter from wood smoke periodically exceeds air quality objectives.
  • PM2.5 is particulate matter that is less than 2.5 microns in diameter. PM2.5 is of great concern because it can become lodged deep inside the lungs causing heart and lung disease and even premature death.
  • Recent air quality studies found that 53% of total PM2.5 emissions resulted from the open burning of wood waste, 24% from space heating, 14% from the pulp and paper industry, 6% from mobile sources such as vehicles and 3% from miscellaneous sources.
  • There is no proposed ban on the use of woodstoves as a heating appliance, but there may be restrictions on their use during air quality advisories.

Frequently Asked Questions

Check out this document for answers to some frequently asked questions: Air Quality FAQs