Editorial: Burning proposals contradictory

Editorial: Burning proposals contradictory

Thing is, enforcement is poor.

Thing is, enforcement is poor.

North Cowichan is finally looking at its burning bylaws with the view to helping to clear the Cowichan air.

The Cowichan Valley has notoriously poor air quality during certain times of the year, and advocates have long argued that backyard burning of waste should not be allowed and those with smoky woodstoves should be encouraged to snuff out the fire in favour of a less air polluting alternative.

It is a significant health issue, with the Cowichan Valley recording distressing numbers of people suffering from breathing difficulties, with far too many of them are ending up in the emergency room.

Those who want to continue to burn tend to argue that it’s costly to haul all that debris to the transfer station (even if most of it is free to take there) and that this is a problem of city folk moving in and not understanding the country lifestyle.

These seem poor reasons in light of the serious health problems the smoky atmosphere is creating, and poor enforcement means that many people seem to be burning whenever they feel like it, whatever the venting index.

So North Cowichan’s possible move to eliminate windows when people can do backyard burns is a great step in the right direction.

But their concurrent proposal to allow properties, including those within the urban containment boundary, of more than two acres to burn debris seems almost inexplicable. Such properties can be some of the worst offenders, as they often burn considerably more stuff than those on city-sized lots.

We understand the rationale that the municipality wants to encourage folks with such properties to mitigate fire risks by clearing out debris, but this can’t be the best solution of how to make that happen.

It’s been suggested many times before, but a twice-a-year clean-up where the municipality would do a collection is an idea worth serious consideration.

Better than watching it go up in smoke.