Editorial: Foregoing backyard burning one small thing we can do for COVID-19 sufferers

All jurisdictions in the Cowichan Valley are under no-burn orders at this time.

“People’s right to live supersedes people’s right to burn.”

Well said Mayor Al Siebring. Well said.

While some jurisdictions in the Cowichan Valley already ban all outdoor backyard burning at all times of the year (City of Duncan, Town of Lake Cowichan), the majority of people still have a couple of windows per year during which they can pile up debris and burn in their backyards. That is, under normal circumstances. But circumstances in 2020 are far from normal.

All jurisdictions in the Cowichan Valley are under no-burn orders at this time. The Municipality of North Cowichan and the Cowichan Valley Regional District asked nicely in mid-March for people to forego their usual fire, and to even limit use of woodstoves where possible. Then the province backed up that request with a firm order.

See, the thing is, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. Even those who merely become non-critically ill describe shortness of breath and difficulty breathing as notable symptoms. And of course there’s a cough.

Under such circumstances you’d think people, who so far have been willing to change their lives drastically by doing things such as staying home and not congregating with others, would be happy to oblige. Which is why we were astonished to see some of the responses to our stories on the subject. A startling and disappointing number of people dismissed the need to keep smoke out of the air at a time when a pandemic that causes people to have difficulty breathing is sweeping the world. Responses ranged from the usual insistence on a right to burn, to some claiming that anyone who would be affected by the smoke would already be in hospital, and therefore reducing smoke in the air would make no difference. We were absolutely flummoxed by this piece of ignorance.

The fact of the matter is that most people who contract COVID-19 will go through their entire illness at home. We need to help them stay there, not send them to hospital because of almost unimaginable selfishness.


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