Changes to open burn­ing reg­u­la­tions on the way

The Prince George Citizen - - Front Page - Mark NIELSEN Cit­i­zen staff [email protected]­i­t­i­

Re­vised mea­sures to reg­u­late open burn­ing will come into ef­fect in ad­vance of the fall burn­ing sea­son, the pro­vin­cial govern­ment said Wed­nes­day.

The new rules, set to be in place on Septem­ber 15, will re­place a “one-size-fits-all” ap­proach with a sys­tem of low, medium and high smoke sen­si­tiv­ity zones, ac­cord­ing to de­tails pro­vided by the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change Strat­egy.

In high sen­si­tiv­ity zones, burn pe­ri­ods will be re­duced to 1-2 days from 3-4 and all de­bris will need to be “sea­soned” or dried out.

For medium zones, the reg­u­la­tions will re­main gen­er­ally un­changed and for low zones, de­fined as large ar­eas with low pop­u­la­tions, they will be re­laxed.

The amount of slash that can be burned in those zones won’t change, but in­dus­try will have more days in which they can burn their set amount.

There will also be larger set­backs from homes, busi­nesses, schools and hos­pi­tals.

In gen­eral, they will be 500 me­tres from homes and busi­nesses and a kilo­me­tre from school and hos­pi­tals, up from 100 and 500 me­tres re­spec­tively.

But burn­ing within the old stan­dards will be al­lowed if a set of best prac­tices is fol­lowed.

Th­ese in­clude lim­it­ing burn time to one day, sea­son­ing all ma­te­rial, burn­ing ma­te­rial smaller than 50 cen­time­tres in di­am­e­ter, and not burn­ing stumps.

“Peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties de­serve to have clean air,” Min­is­ter of En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change Strat­egy Ge­orge Hey­man said in a press re­lease.

“That’s why we are putting new rules in place that will lessen health im­pacts and al­low ev­ery­one to breathe a lit­tle eas­ier. We are also in­cen­tiviz­ing the use of newer and cleaner tech­nol­ogy with rules that give more flex­i­bil­ity if ad­vanced burn­ing tech­nol­ogy is used to cut pol­lu­tion.”

On that note, re­duced set­backs and per­mis­sion to burn in a wider range of weather con­di­tions will be granted to those who use an air cur­tain in­cin­er­a­tor – a steel box in­su­lated with fire­bricks.

A blower blows a “cur­tain” of air over the top of the box that re­cir­cu­lates the smoke and re­duces emis­sions to 5-10 per cent of those from pile burn­ing.

The di­rec­tor may vary re­quire­ments for spe­cial cases, which will al­low new burn­ing tech­nolo­gies to be tested and eval­u­ated.

Open burn­ing is the largest source of fine par­tic­u­late mat­ter pol­lu­tion B.C., ac­cord­ing to the pro­vin­cial govern­ment, con­tribut­ing as much as trans­porta­tion, wood heat­ing and the wood-pro­cess­ing in­dus­try com­bined.

“Poor air qual­ity can take a ter­ri­ble toll on peo­ple liv­ing with res­pi­ra­tory and un­der­ly­ing health is­sues,” pro­vin­cial health of­fi­cer Dr. Bonnie Henry said. “Given the dif­fi­cult wild­fire sea­sons our province has faced in re­cent years, ini­tia­tives like this to im­prove air qual­ity are im­por­tant, es­pe­cially to se­niors and chil­dren who are of­ten the most at risk.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, the new reg­u­la­tion al­lows com­mu­ni­ties more flex­i­bil­ity to con­duct con­trolled burn­ing to re­duce fire haz­ards that could make them vul­ner­a­ble to larger wild­fires.

Guid­ance doc­u­ments are be­ing fi­nal­ized and will be avail­able on­line in ad­vance of the fall burn­ing sea­son, along with more in­for­ma­tion on the reg­u­la­tion.

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