Open Burning restrictions in response to COVID-19

There are different burn bans in our region to help protect people’s health during COVID-19 pandemic. As BC has noted in a release announcing their open burning ban:
“There is strong evidence that exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory viral infections by decreasing immune function…. Evidence suggests that air pollution from combustion sources is most strongly associated with increased risk of viral infection, particularly vehicle emissions and biomass burning.”
This post explains what is covered by the bans and where they apply.

BC BAN (announced March 26):

  • Effective immediately, BC has banned all open burning that they regulate (e.g. larger fires like forestry, agriculture and land clearing. Ban also includes materials greater than 3 cm in diameter) in High Smoke Sensitivity Zones (HSSZ) only. This ban will be in effect until at least April 15th.
  • The HSSZ for our area covers most of CVRD. See bright green area on map in image (click to enlarge). No fires with materials over 3 cm diameter, excluding campfires, are permitted in this zone.
  • See BC’s news release about their ban.

CVRD BAN (Announced March 24):

Breathe Clean Air learned that CVRD was going to be talking about yard waste burning limitations (in response to COVID-19) on a March 23th conference call. We submitted a letter asking CVRD to help improve health outcomes during the pandemic, and got other concerned citizens to write.

The next day, CVRD announced upcoming restrictions on burning:

  • The ban is for fires they regulate like yard waste and campfires.
  • As of April 1st, all open fires are banned in CVRD except in some fire districts where campfires/recreational fires may still be allowed. No fires are allowed in Courtenay/Comox and most fire districts to the north, except Black Creek/Oyster River. Fire districts to the south generally will allow campfires and sometimes recreational fires.
  • “Recreational back yard fires” are basically campfires in people’s back yards rather than at a campsite. Recreational fires include fires used for the purposes of cooking food and the provision of heat (i.e. not burning of yard waste)
  • Burning of materials greater than 3cm diameter is banned immediately under the BC ban. Burning of leaves and small branch fires is allowed until April 1 (but to protect everyone’s health all burning should really be avoided!)
  • See CVRD news release (it lists what is allowed in various fire districts).
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