Burning in early April for land clearing on private land on the Tzeachten reserve next to the Bailey Landfill and below Promontory has led to numerous complaints and questions of city hall and the band office. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Heavy smoke from burning below Promontory leads to complaints

First Nations land means City of Chilliwack can’t help and Tzeachten band has no law against it

It’s burning season in the Fraser Valley but one landowner has been creating a wall of smoke in front of Promontory in recent days leading to complaints to city hall and the Tzeachten First Nation from nearby residents and band members.

The problem? There is nothing the municipality or even the Tzeachten band can do about it.

Burning is permitted in agricultural zones only in the City of Chilliwack with a permit following certain conditions at certain times of the year, including March 1 to April 30. However, the city has no authority on reserve land.

As for the First Nation, the band has nothing in their land code to forbid such burning, according to Tzeachten general manager James Atebe.

The land in question is on Tzeachten to the west of the Bailey Landfill and the south of the Tzeachten sports field. The land is the First Nation equivalent of private property, namely, land held by a band member under a certificate of possession giving them legal title to the land.

“As a community we’ve asked him to meet with us to find a better way to manage the smoke,” Atebe told The Progress Wednesday. “We don’t have a law that prohibits burning.”

Approximately half a dozen huge piles of green debris were burning this week on Monday and Tuesday emitting thick smoke that several residents on Promontory and on the Tzeachten reserve complained about.

“There is ash all over the cars up in Promontory,” a reader called in to the paper. “It is a total mess.”

A number of others complained on social media the smoke was affecting breathing, particularly for the sick, elderly and young children.

City hall has received complaints and a spokesperson said they reached out to Tzeachten to let them know. Atebe confirmed they have had complaints forwarded and the band has received some as well, so they have reached out to the landowner to ask him to follow burning best practices.

“He’s been following the requirements from the Ministry of Environment,” Atebe said.

Indeed, according to the Ministry of Environment’s venting index, while burning was going on between April 1 and 3 the venting index for the Fraser Valley was set at “good.” By Wednesday, the venting index changed to “poor,” and a visit to the site showed that there was only smoke emitting from one pile of debris, and even that may have been smoldering from the day before.

“We don’t have a law that can put a stop to it, but he’s in touch with us,” Atebe said of the landowner. “I think he will work with us…. Our discussion with the member and also working with the City of Chilliwack fire department is to impart some best practices so, even when you are burning you must make sure the site you are burning is not too big, make sure you supply a lot of oxygen to it so it is burning free and doesn’t pollute and affect the neighbours.”

The issue of burning comes up every year in Chilliwack as those in agricultural zones are permitted to burn following certain guidelines.

Some of those guidelines, if violated, come with fines of between $250 and $1,000 per offence include: burning only permitted between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.; burning only allowed when ventilation index is “good” or “fair”; all material burned must originate from the site; burn pile size is limited to two metres in diameter and 1.5 metres high; and land clearing burning is not permitted at any time and no permits can be issued for this purpose.

This latter guideline means that even if the land in question were in a municipal agricultural zone, it would not be permitted.

• RELATED: Burning complaints the number two call to the Chilliwack Fire Department

• RELATED: Air quality advisory continued for Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Burning in early April for land clearing on private land on the Tzeachten reserve next to the Bailey Landfill and below Promontory has led to numerous complaints and questions of city hall and the band office. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Burning in early April for land clearing on private land on the Tzeachten reserve next to the Bailey Landfill and below Promontory has led to numerous complaints and questions of city hall and the band office. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Just Posted

SLIDESHOW: Chilliwack firefighters battle large blaze at Rosedale chicken barn Friday

Birds were saved but the buildings on Castleman Road were destroyed by fire

Chilliwack Fair kicks off tonight with local talent

Todd Richard and Appaloosa to hit the stage for drive-in concert at fairgrounds

PHOTOS: Moving day for 110-year-old Chilliwack heritage house

House-moving company relocated Hope River Road home to Riverside Drive

UPDATE w/ PHOTOS: Chilliwack fire crews tackle vacant house fire on Rowat Avenue Friday

Empty house was boarded up and behind fencing on lots slated for redevelopment

VIDEO: Chilliwack chicken barn destroyed by fire

Chickens saved from blaze as firefighters work to control large fire

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Plainclothes Abbotsford police officer deletes cellphone video after drawing gun on innocent man

‘They never asked me what I was doing there, strictly came out with guns, threatening to shoot me’

CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for Aug. 7

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Most Read