Open Burning Season and Provincial Regulations
Under RDCO Bylaw 773 and Bylaw 1066 and local fire prevention bylaws in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country and Peachland, open burning requires a valid permit from a local fire jurisdiction and is only allowed between October 1st and April 30th unless further restrictions are in place due to fire hazards or other local conditions.
IN ADDITION, the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation is in place from the BC Ministry of Environment. Fact Sheet
Before lighting any open burn pile, in addition to any local fire permit and bylaws, eligible property owners are also responsible to ensure compliance with this new BC regulation.
Provincial Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation
This provincial regulation will protect British Columbia's air quality and people's health by reducing fine particulate matter pollution. Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation Fact Sheet
The regulation divides the province in high smoke sensitivity, medium and low zones. The Central Okanagan Region is within the “High Sensitivity Zone” and many new requirements apply and must be met before igniting any fires including but not limited to:
- that efforts have been made to reduce the amount of vegetative debris to be burned through alternative methods of reducing, reusing, recycling:
- new setbacks prohibiting burning near hospitals, health care facilities, schools and neighbouring properties
- The new provincial regulation applies to open burning for a domestic or an agricultural purpose, if all of the vegetative debris open burned is branches or other pieces of vegetative debris, with or without leaves, of which at least some of the individual branches or pieces are 10 cm or greater in diameter
- Material smaller than 10cm can be easily managed through alternatives to burning. Check the alternatives to burning available in the Central Okanagan.
Property owners are responsible for meeting the new Provincial requirements and should contact the Province directly for more information.
Non-compliance to requirements of the provincial Open Burning legislation that exceed the local government bylaw requirements is to be enforced by the province only e.g., setback requirements that are more stringent than local bylaws. Enforcement by the province will be managed via reporting to the provincial RAPP Line (1-877-952-7277 or #7277 on the TELUS Mobility Network). If the situation is not an emergency, report the incident online or contact the nearest Conservation Officer Service district office.
How Do I Get A Central Okanagan Fire Burning Permit
As in the past, fire departments in the Central Okanagan will issue permits to those who qualify and meet the requirements of local fire protection bylaws. Permit holders may be subject to other conditions from the fire department issuing the permit. If necessary each department enforces its own bylaw regulations.
Residents that have properties greater than 1 hectare (2.47 acres) can apply for a permit through their local Fire Department jurisdiction.
A local fire permit does not suggest or ensure compliance with the new Provincial regulations.
Fire Department Jurisdictions for Permits
Residents with questions about the burn permit process in the Central Okanagan should contact their local fire jurisdiction.
Residents are encouraged to report anyone violating local bylaws by burning on a non-burning day by calling the Regional Fire Dispatch Center at 250-469-8577
Areas within the Regional District that are outside of a fire protection area and local bylaws fall under the Provincial Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation. Residents may contact the Regional District at 250-469-6223 to confirm that they are outside of a fire protection area. For more information view Outdoor Burning Information.
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Call Before You Burn
After you have obtained an open burning permit meeting all local government bylaw requirements AND meeting all requirements of the BC Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation, you must ensure that burning is allowed on the day you want to burn. Call the Regional Open Burning Information Line (toll free) at 1-855-262-2876 to check the Venting Index and Air Quality on the day you plan to burn. Listen to the message to confirm that burning is permitted on that day.
In the Central Okanagan open burning is only permitted when the Venting Index is 65 or greater and particulate matter (PM 2.5) concentration is less than 15 µg/m3. Anyone that is caught burning without a Local Burning Permit or breaking the rules of their permit issued by a Central Okanagan fire service may be subject to fines up to $2000 or be charged with the cost of putting out the fire by their fire service.
Current Open Burning Conditions
Residents with a valid permit and meeting all requirements of the BC Open Burning and Smoke Control Regulation are required to check the air quality/venting conditions on the day that they want to burn. Conditions are updated daily at approximately 8:00 am. The conditions can also be accessed by calling 1-855-262-BURN (2876).
It is illegal to burn prohibited materials, including, but not limited to:
- Compostable materials (e.g. leaves, grass clippings)
- Vegetative debris resulting from land cleared for a different use (e.g. farmland to residential development)
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Open burning Complaints / Illegal Burning
If you suspect that someone is burning without a permit or the specific local fire and smoke control requirements are not met, call Regional Fire Dispatch immediately: 250-469-8577
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Alternatives to Open Burning
Farmers, orchardists and residents are encouraged to take advantage of other options such as chipping, flail mowing, or air curtain burning to help reduce smoke pollution. More Information?
Please follow the alternatives to minimize the vegetative debris to be burned. Estimations on your efforts to minimize burning materials are now required.
- Free Agricultural Chipping Program - the Regional Air Quality Program offers a free service for Central Okanagan orchardists who want to chip wood waste material from an orchard removal. This type of debris typically includes stumps and large branches. Contact the Regional Air Quality Coordinator at 250-469-8408 or visit the program page for more information.
- Mow-Chip Rent-it Rebate program - Qualifying participants must have a property one hectare or greater in size with a small volume of wood for fuel reduction and/or agricultural activities that can’t be served through the regular Agricultural Chipping Program. The Regional Air Quality Program provides up to 80% of the cost of renting mow/chip equipment or services up to a $500 maximum. Visit the Mow-Chip Rent-it program for more information and an online application. Depending on your needs, you can hire a contractor or rent your own machine. Search online (wood chipping, stump grinding, tree service, machine rentals, etc.) to find a company that suits your needs.
- The yard waste drop off program is available at the Glenmore landfill and Westside Residential Waste Disposal and Recycling Centre (Asquith Road in West Kelowna). Fees apply. When transporting loads for disposal, please make sure they are covered. Please visit rdco.com/recycle, email email@example.com or call the Regional Waste Reduction Office at 250-469-6250 for more information.
- Starting this year the bi-weekly curbside yard waste collection program runs an extra month through December. Please only place leaves, grass, pine needles and small pruning’s inside the yard waste cart with the green lid closed. Consult your Living Greener Calendar or contact the Regional Waste Reduction Office at 250 469-6250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Air Curtain Burning uses forced air to burn wood faster and with less smoke. Contact your local Fire Department to learn more about forced air incineration options for agricultural or land clearing wood waste
- A number of private companies offer wood chipping and grinding services or rent portable chippers. Some may also pick up yard waste for disposal.
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Once you have considered alternatives to burning, applied for and received a valid open burning permit, please follow these open burning best practices:
- Call the Regional Open Burning Information line on the day you want to burn at 1-855-262-2876 to ensure that burning is permitted
- Do not start burning until after 10:00 am, as conditions are usually poor for venting smoke before that time
- All debris 10 centimetres or greater in diameter should be dry for at least two years or alternatively have a 30% or less moisture content (records are required).
- Prunings and small branches must be dry before burning
- Make piles no greater than 3 metres wide by 3 metres long and two metres high to better control the fire and reach proper dryness
- Check wind direction to keep smoke away from neighbours
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Campfires, Residential Fire Pits and Other Outdoor Wood Burning Appliances
- Click to check if there is a campfire ban in place for the Central Okanagan
Campfires and outdoor wood burning appliances are not permitted in the City of Kelowna including fire pits, woodstoves, chimneys and other appliances, unless conditions are met as outlined in Bylaw No. 10760. You can still use an outdoor appliance in the City of Kelowna if the appliance is CSA/ULC, CGA or equivalent approved and is fueled by natural gas, propane, gel or charcoal.
Different restrictions are in place for other municipalities in the Central Okanagan, please check your local bylaws. If uncertain or have any questions, residents should speak with their local Fire Department to see if campfires or wood burning appliances are allowed and if permits/special conditions are required.
Central Okanagan Campfire Info and Links
- City of Kelowna Bylaw 10760 - No Wood Campfires Allowed
- City of West Kelowna Bylaw 0114 - Wood Campfires Allowed, No Permit Required
- District of Lake Country Bylaw 612 - Wood Campfires Allowed, No Permit Required
- District of Peachland Bylaw 1718 - Wood Campfires Allowed, Permit Required
- Regional District Fire Protection Areas Bylaws 773 and 1066 - Wood Campfires Allowed, No Permit Required
- Westbank First Nation 2005-11 - Wood Campfires Allowed, No Permit Required
In order to prevent health issues and nuisance, it is recommended that campfires should be avoided when the air quality conditions are poor. Poor air quality conditions happen when:
- The venting index is less than 34 and/or
- Particulate matter (PM2.5) is 15 µg/m3 or greater.
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How the Venting Index is calculated?
Open Burning brochure
Regional Air Quality Coordinator