New open-burning restrictions have been put in place by the province in the Cowichan Valley in efforts to help in the fight against COVID-19. (File photo)

Province restricts open burning in Cowichan Valley until April 15

Measure meant to assist fight against COVID-19

The province has initiated open-burning restrictions in the Cowichan Valley, and all other areas in B.C. considered to be high-smoke sensitivity zones, until April 15.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in collaboration with provincial public health partners, has issued the restrictions as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

A press release from the ministry states that no new fires may be initiated in the impacted areas and no additional material may be added to existing fires.

However, small camp fires, no bigger than 0.5 metres high and 0.5 metres wide, are still permitted in these zones.

The ministry said the BC Centre for Disease Control recommended implementing measures to reduce any excess air pollution during the health crisis.


“There is strong evidence that exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory viral infections by decreasing immune function,” the press release said.

“Evidence suggests that air pollution from combustion sources is most strongly associated with increased risk of viral infection, particularly vehicle emissions and biomass burning. At this time, the BC Centre for Disease Control strongly recommends that open burning of biomass fuels be restricted in areas with a high or moderate risk of population exposure to the resulting smoke.”

The ministry said the restrictions will be evaluated on a daily basis, and the areas to which they apply may grow or diminish accordingly.

While backyard burning is usually permitted in the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s electoral areas between March 15 and April 15, as well as areas of North Cowichan in limited circumstances, when the venting index is ‘good,’ the CVRD and regional medical health officer asked Valley residents earlier this week not to engage in backyard burning, and limit their use of wood stoves given the respiratory impact of COVID-19.


That request has been greeted with skepticism by many in the region.

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said it’s a fact that the only residents who have an inherent right to burn in the Valley are those with homes that are primarily heated by wood stoves.

“Those most impacted by COVID-19 are those with respiratory issues,” he said.

“People’s right to live supersedes people’s right to burn. Those looking to get rid of wood waste can drop it off at one of the CVRD’s recycling centres.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusPollution and Air Quality

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

39 caught speeding through Cowichan school zones

On June 1, North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP conducted speed enforcement in several school zones

Lake Cowichan firefighters douse blaze at Mayo Road

Sahtlam called in for mutual aid in abandoned shop and motorhome

Caps send Luciano Wilson to Penticton Vees

Hometown hero led Cowichan in scoring last season

Considerations made to keep Crofton drive-by birthday celebrations going

Trucks will tone it down or not use horns at all to bring some joy to kids and older folks

$10,000 stolen bikes recovered after Maple Bay break-in

Police track high-end bikes to storage locker

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Friendly Cove and Kyuquot will remain closed until further notice

Transition of other B.C. communities will be monitored before a decision to ease restrictions

Gold River organizes a shop local initiative to creatively boost economy

Local purchases can earn shoppers $200 gift certificates to be spent on businesses within Gold River

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit arrived as whale broke free from prawn trap line

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

Most Read