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Open burning bylaw gets more restricted in Chilliwack

The bylaw ‘is a step toward protecting our airshed and our respiratory health,’ says mayor
Chilliwack made changes to its open burning bylaw. (Chilliwack Progress file)

No more open burning on ‘fair’ ventilation days.

City of Chilliwack tightened up some of the rules around open burning for agricultural or rural property owners for air quality reasons, and that was one of them.

When the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy clamped down recently by updating its Open Burning Smoke Control bylaw, it was to minimize risks to air quality and human health.

This week Chilliwack council updated its own Open Burning Bylaw, to align with new provincial rules under the Environmental Management Act.

“This bylaw is a step toward protecting our airshed and our respiratory health, but it’s important that we continue to do more,” said Mayor Ken Popove. “Anyone who can chip, compost, or bring their materials to the Green Depot instead of burning, should be doing so, for the good of our community.”

Other changes to the bylaw include larger setbacks, such as increasing the setback distance from neighbouring residences and businesses from 15 metres to 100 metres, as well as an expanded list of materials prohibited from burning and expanded measures to prevent or address excessive smoke.

Open burning will only be permitted during spring or fall burning seasons, with a valid burning permit, on days the ventilation index is ‘good’ and only between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. That contrasts with the old bylaw which permitted burning on ‘fair’ or ‘good’ ventilation index days, between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Another change is an increase in the burn permit fee, last updated in 2008, will rise from $25 to $35, to help offset the cost of administering permits and responding to burning complaints.

The spring burning season will remain from March 1 to April 30, and the fall season from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30.

Burning is only permitted on agricultural or rural properties, and the material to be burned must originate from the same property.

Concurrent revisions to the Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw and the Municipal Ticket Information Bylaw will include higher penalties for more significant infractions, such as burning without a permit, burning prohibited/hazardous material, or burning in a manner that produces significant smoke.

For more information about the new bylaw requirements, visit Residents may also apply online for a burning permit for spring burning season at this link, starting March 1.

RELATED: At pandemic outset council what was left of burning season

READ MORE: Fall burning season cancelled for air quality reasons

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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