Air quality is a community effort and is endorsed by the Regional Board.
In order to ensure our air quality is as good as it can be the Regional District of Central Okanagan has enacted a bylaw to reduce the emissions from open burning, campfires and wood burning appliances. It regulates when and how smoke from fires can be produced.
The Regional Smoke Control Bylaw No. 773 also provides some respite to those bothered by nuisance smoke. The bylaw is enforced by complaint only and applies to the Electoral Areas of the Regional District, the City of Kelowna, City of West Kelowna and through separate bylaws enacted and enforced by the District of Lake Country and District of Peachland. Residents are encouraged to report anyone illegally burning on a non-burning day by calling the Regional Fire Dispatch Center at 250-469-8577.
View a Consolidated version of Smoke Control Bylaw No. 773. This electronic version of the bylaw is provided for convenience only and is not to be considered the legal document.
The winter in the Central Okanagan valley often sees strong inversions, which makes for poor burning conditions as smoke becomes trapped in the valley bottom. The worst scenario occurs when the inversion lifts, but remains below the height of local hills. On days like this the Ventilation Index may be fair or good, but smoke won't be able to disperse out of the valley and will in fact be mixed downward, significantly reducing air quality.
For those using wood burning appliances (wood stoves, fire places, fire place inserts) please view this Tip Sheet for Cleaner Burning.
The main purpose of the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) is to inform Central Okanagan residents about the present state of air quality in our region. Having this information available each day builds awareness in the public. For asthmatics and other concerned residents it may even influence their behaviour. For example, in a situation where the AQHI is high (above 50) those with respiratory problems may choose to refrain from strenuous exercise or temporarily avoid the region.
The Regional Air Quality Program has links and information on Agricultural Burning Options, Anti-Idling and tips on how to burn cleaner with Wood Burning Appliances.