Know the Rules

CVRD Bylaw No. 3716 - Smoke Control Regulation Bylaw, 2013

In order to improve local air quality and to address health impacts linked to smoke pollution, a bylaw restricting backyard burning within CVRD Electoral Areas A, B, C, D, E and G (excluding the Gulf Islands) has been enacted and is effective immediately. A resolution to implement this bylaw within CVRD Electoral Area F has been referred to the respective Area Planning Commission for review.

CVRD Bylaw No. 3716 was developed in response to the CVRD Board’s request that a burning bylaw be prepared for Electoral Areas A, B, C, D, E, and G (excluding Gulf Islands) and modelled after the Municipality of North Cowichan’s burning bylaw. Bylaw No. 3716 is a nuisance bylaw that seeks to regulate open burning for the purpose of reducing smoke pollution and its impacts on human health.

Backyard burning is banned completely in other local municipalities, including the City of Duncan, the Town of Ladysmith and the Town of Lake Cowichan. While CVRD Bylaw No. 3716 mirrors the Municipality of North Cowichan’s bylaw, it also aligns with the intent of those in place in these surrounding jurisdictions, in order to keep with the fact that smoke pollution knows no boundaries.

Several restrictions outlined within CVRD Bylaw No.3716 will impact all backyard burning activities in the specified CVRD Electoral Areas. Key features of the Bylaw include the following:
  • Open Burning is permitted from March 15 through April 15 and from October 15 through November 15 only;
  • Open Burning must be located at least 10 metres from all property lines (generally restricting burning to parcels ½ acre in size or larger);
  • The size of Open Burning must not exceed:
    • 2 metres in diameter; and
    • 2 metres in height;
  • Open Burning may occur only when the BC Venting Index is rated as “good”
  • Check the BC Venting Index for the southern Vancouver Island zone (also available by telephoning 1-888-281-2992)
  • Burning material must be smaller than 8" (200 mm) in diameter OR be burnt within 72 hours (no new material can be added after 5 pm)
  • All burning must occur between 7:00 AM and sunset
The BC Ministry of Environment's Venting Index contains smoke-control forecasts for the current and following day, as well as archived smoke-control forecasts for the last several years. If the Ventilation Index indicates POOR or FAIR, then smoke that results from burning will tend to build up, causing air pollution. To avoid such pollution, outdoor burning is restricted when the index is POOR or FAIR.

Additional provisions are as outlined in CVRD Bylaw No.3716.

Please refer to the Bylaw in its entirety for further regulations and the definition of "open burning".

Campfires are permitted under this Bylaw, but must abide by the set out regulations as to not constitute a nuisance (see section 5 of CVRD Bylaw No.3716).

Many CVRD residents already recognize the impact of smoke from open burning and choose to take yard and garden material to a CVRD Recycling Drop-off Depot for free recycling. You are encouraged to be a good neighbour and do the same.

There are alternatives to burning! Yard and garden materials like small branches and leaves can be recycled for free at many convenient locations in the CVRD. Check out the new Cowichan Recyclopedia for details and hundreds more recycling ideas!

Landclearing Debris and Stumps

Open pile burning of land clearing debris and stumps is banned in the Cowichan Valley. $1,000 is the minimum fine for burning landclearing debris illegally in the CVRD.

Landclearing debris & stumps can only be burned with the use of an air curtain or trench burner as per CVRD Bylaw No. 2020 – Landclearing Management Regulation Bylaw.

Open Burning of Landclearing Debris: Information & Alternatives

All land clearing burns must be registered with the CVRD prior to ignition. Fill out the burn registration form.

Responsible Air Curtain Burner Usage - This document offers operating tips when using an air curtain burner.

A registry of local companies offering air curtain burning is currently being updated. Please check back soon.

Any burning of land clearing debris and stumps must also comply with the BC Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation and any applicable municipal bylaws. It’s your responsibility to know the rules before you burn and familiarize yourself with any applicable laws. Contact your local town, city or municipal office for more information (see below).

Burning stumps and landclearing debris doesn’t get rid of waste. It just wastes valuable materials, and poisons the air with invisible toxic chemicals. Be a good neighbour: recycle your waste by chipping or grinding. If you have to burn, use an air curtain or trench burner – it’s the law!

Yard Waste and Backyard Burning

Rules on backyard burning change depending on where you live. Not sure which rules apply to you? Use the following links or phone numbers to find out more.

CVRD Electoral Areas
phone 250-746-2500

District of North Cowichan
phone 250-746-3100

Town of Lake Cowichan
phone 250-749-6681

Town of Ladysmith
phone 250-245-6400 or toll free 1-800-215-3552
Note - backyard burning is banned in the Town of Ladysmith

City of Duncan
phone 250-746-6126
Note - backyard burning is banned in the City of Duncan

Please note that all fire safety concerns or emergencies should be reported by phoning your local fire department or by calling 911 Emergency Services.

Garbage, Construction Debris and Prohibited Materials

Burning of construction debris or any prohibited materials with landclearing debris is banned by the BC Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation. Prohibited materials banned from burning under this regulation include:

Tires, plastics, drywall, demolition waste, domestic waste (household material and food waste not including newspaper and cardboard), special waste, biomedical waste, asphalt and asphalt products, treated lumber, railway ties, manure, rubber, paint and paint products, tar paper, fuel and lubricant containers.

Under the BC Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation, a person who burns prohibited materials can face fines up to $200,000. Know the rules before you burn!

Burning of waste generated from an industry, trade or business is prohibited at all times by the Environmental Management Act.

Domestic burning of garbage may also be banned by local municipal burning bylaws. Contact your local town, city or municipal office for specific regulations for your area.

A person who contravenes waste disposal requirements set out by the Environmental Management Act can face fines up to $1,000,000 or imprisonment for up to 6 months, or both. Know the rules before you burn!

For more information, contact your local Conservation Officer Service or call your local town, city or municipal Bylaw Enforcement office.