Smoke control bylaw’s intent is to raise awareness, encourage responsible burning practices

Former Air Quality Coordinator Janice Johnson comments on the reasoning behind the regional district’s smoke control bylaw

  • Apr. 3, 2012 11:00 a.m.


Basically the Smoke Control Bylaw was written in such a way that it is a bylaw to encourage responsible burning.

The previous board had a workshop and several meetings to develop the wording.

I don’t understand why a municipal or an area director would not want to adopt a smoke control bylaw.

It provides an easy means to encourage efficient burning practices and a means to protect the health of its citizens from wood smoke, especially those who are most vulnerable.

One poor burning wood stove can pollute many blocks where the particulate matter seeps into homes.

It has been known now for over 10 years the serious health impacts from wood smoke. Infants and children are most vulnerable, as is those with pre-existing heart and lung disease. But everyone is affected.

There are a number of tools now to help a resident heating with wood to burn efficiently, which means only a heat wave coming from their chimney. The bylaw can help provide that education to those who are not aware.

It is important that those living higher up from the valley bottom, such as in the Anarchist Mountain area,  also be provided the education through this bylaw to burn efficiently, because when they don’t that pollution not only affects their family and neighbors but also affect those living on the valley bottom.

The RDOS Smoke Control Bylaw covers off all types of burning while municipalities in the RDOS region have no bylaws that encourage good burning practices with wood heating, with some municipalities allowing the burning of yard waste which smolders and smokes for days.

Some municipalities and rural areas have open air burning bylaws, with a nuisance clause that the fire department enforces.

It is expensive for a fire department to go out on calls to nuisance smoke related fires.

To save tax dollars and not tie up fire departments, the RDOS Smoke Control Bylaw is enforced by a bylaw officer, and the bylaw officer provides the education.

This bylaw is straight forward and easy to understand and covers off wood heating and open air burning and hopefully helps to eliminate garbage burning.

With every rural area and municipality adopting a smoke control bylaw, everyone benefits from the same level of protection.

The provincial Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation does not cover off back yard burning or wood heating.

The RDOS Smoke Control Bylaw is a great step towards keeping air clean, especially during the winter months when valley communities experience inversion conditions.



Contributed by Janice Johnson