One Step Closer to New Air Quality Regulations in North Cowichan

(September 7, North Cowichan) - The proposed changes to North Cowichans Fire Protection Bylaw were on the agenda again at yesterdays Council meeting. After some debate and amendments by Council, the new air quality regulations passed third reading and are now one step closer to being adopted. 

The bylaw proposes that residential open burning be prohibited within the Urban Containment Boundary (UCB), with exceptions for registered farms and properties greater than 2 acres. Properties within the UCB that qualify for open burning will be required to obtain a permit, free of charge, from the municipality prior to burning. The permitting process will provide property owners with information on how to burn properly and, if required, will aid with enforcement action. 

Council voted in favour that, if adopted, the new regulations would go into effect on January 1, 2018 and also reconsidered the elimination of the current open burning windows. It was proposed that rather than eliminating the windows completely, the opening burning window in the fall (currently October 15 November 15) be extended to September 15 November 30. 

In absence of a complete ban on open burning, this allows greater opportunity for residents to burn on days when the Venting Index is good, which should help reduce spikes in emissions, says Mayor Jon Lefebure. We recognize the concerns about air quality and believe these changes are a step in the right direction towards cleaner, healthier air in North Cowichan, 

The bylaw changes are expected to be back before Council, for adoption, at the September 20 Council meeting. More information can be found at  

Additional proposed changes include:

  • Campfires (less than 24 inches in diameter) will still be allowed, provided a fire ban is not in effect for the Coastal Fire Zone.
  • Large land clearing debris burns (i.e. Category 3 - where piles are greater than 2m high x 3m wide or where multiple piles must be burned concurrently) within the municipality will be prohibited unless an air curtain burner is being used. Exemptions will be provided for registered farms for burning done as part of normal farm practices.
  • Regulations on the use of woodstoves are not proposed, but following the City of Duncan and Island Healths lead, Council is considering limiting their use during air quality advisories, which happen infrequently and should not be confused with the venting index. Exemptions will be provided for homes where a wood burning appliance is the primary source of heating.
Is your property located in the Urban Containment Boundary?

The municipalitys public mapping tool shows the UCB in all three areas; Chemainus, Crofton and South End. Follow these steps to see if your property is within the UCB:
  1. Check the box and click Ok
  2. All properties inside the black borders are located within the UCB.