Burning stuff has long been an accepted way of getting rid of waste of various descriptions.
From forestry operations to developers, farmers to regular citizens, piling debris up and setting it on fire has been a go-to garbage plan for years.
But burning as a preferred and allowable method of disposal has passed its best before date.
Especially here in the Cowichan Valley where our mountains trap the particulates, creating a sooty miasma in the air.
This was made clear over the last weekend in May when a planned burn that had provincial permit approval prompted a number of complaints from residents affected by the haze it created.
That’s when those burning were doing everything right! Burning made some sense back in the day. Homes were few and far between, so fires didn’t encroach on others the way they do now.
There were also few options available for getting rid of garbage and other waste.
That’s not true of 2014. Today we have burning bylaws, but there are too many exceptions for them to be as effective as they should be in preserving our air quality.
Proponents of burning like to claim that the bit of smoke never hurt anyone before and is unlikely to do so now.
But health reports contradict this assertion.
According to the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s State of the Environment Report for 2010, hospital admission rates for kids with respiratory problems in the Cowichan region are consistently more than 20 per cent higher than the provincial average, and are, at times, twice the average.
That’s a convincing statistic. Smoke pollution is also known to cause possible problems for people with heart and lung disease, for seniors, for children, and for pregnant women.
We’re talking a pretty good portion of the population there. We continue to burn because it’s what we’ve always done, it’s cheap and it’s easier than trying to change.
But in this case, change we must.
And that includes, farmers, developers and those in forestry.
Breathing in lungfuls of smoke simply isn’t good for us