The regional district board continued discussions regarding implementation of a smoke control bylaw for the region at the September 1 board meeting.
The board originally reviewed a draft copy of the bylaw a year ago, at the September 2, 2010 board meeting.
Because of liability issues arising with the Wild Fire Act, a regionally encompassing bylaw is not yet available. The bylaw would only apply to those areas inside the seven regional fire department’s service area boundaries.
The smoke control bylaw, touted as a “first step” is intended to encourage responsible burning by reducing smoke levels from home heating and open burning. Additionally, it addressed outdoor boilers by stipulating that only EPA certified wood heating appliances are to be used indoors or outdoors. The bylaw would also prohibit the burning of garbage and other prohibited materials.
The legislation would allow outdoor units used for cooking and/or campfires, as long as they weren’t a nuisance. Investigations into infractions would be complaint driven and would be enforced through the bylaw officer, not local fire chiefs.
In summary, the RDOS Smoke Control Regulatory Bylaw would be geared to providing citizens with the opportunity to burn efficiently and would discourage those burning inapropriately. The bylaw does not eliminate burning, rather it advocates responsible burning in order to protect human health.
Board debate centred on the bylaw’s limited scope in the region, based on the fact that it could not be applied to areas outside fire service boundaries.
Naramata Director Tom Chapman questioned staff about current legislation that made it difficult for small acreage farmers to burn small quantities of prunings because of setback distances from other adjacent property structures. He was told that nothing to resolve the problem had been addressed in the bylaw as yet.
Several directors expressed the sentiment that some policy was better than none at all.
“Smoke is being seen as being detrimental more and more,” commented Keremeos Director Walter Despot. “Let’s get the bylaw in place and expand and fine tune it from there.”
Osoyoos rural Director Mark Pendergraft requested the opportunity to opt out of the bylaw, citing issues with the Anarchist Mountain Volunteer Fire Department. He was followed by Area “G” Director Christensen, who also decided the bylaw was not suitable for his area, due to the large area that would not be covered by it.The dissenting requests caused some frustration on the part of several directors, who were impatient to see it pass.
“We have a mix of agriculture and residential property in Area “B,” explained Director George Hanson. “One of the big problems we have is wood burning appliances that are not approved, operating outside. We need to stop this.
The community recently rejected adoption of a burning bylaw – I’ll support this. There are many others that want a burning bylaw.”
The bylaw passed first, second and third readings and will now go to regional district municipalities for acceptance prior to returning to the board for final adoption.