Know the Rules

CVRD Electoral Areas

The CVRD Smoke Control Regulation Bylaw regulates open burning in Electoral Areas A, B, C, D, E and G (with the exception of the Gulf Islands)

  • Open burning is only permitted from March 15 to April 15 and from October 15 to November 15 for those Areas covered by Bylaw 3716.
  • All burning must be set in accordance with federal or provincial regulations.

Residents in Areas F, H, and I must adhere to restrictions set in place by the Ministry of Environment Climate Change Strategy.  

Local Municipality Restrictions

Backyard burning is completely banned in the following local municipalities:

  • The City of Duncan
  • The Town of Ladysmith 
  • The Town of Lake Cowichan 

Similar to the CVRD, the Municipality of North Cowichan has a Fire Protection Bylaw restricting open burning to certain times each year. 

Open Burning Window Rules:

  • Check the BC Venting Index for Southern Vancouver Island and only burn when the 4:00 pm forecast is rated GOOD 
  • Only dry, untreated, natural wood or branches may be burned (NO leaves, grass clippings, garbage or construction waste)
  • Open burning must be located at least 10 metres from all property lines
  • Open burning is limited to one pile two metres in diameter and two metres in height
  • All burning must occur between 7:00 a.m. and sunset of the same day

What is the Venting Index and Why Does it Matter?

The Venting Index measures how well smoke can mix with the surrounding air. Based on wind speed and mixing height of the atmosphere (e.g. how high smoke rises), the Index determines how long smoke persists in a given area. Given that the Cowichan Valley is bowl-shaped, smoke can get trapped here for days, causing poor air quality and respiratory issues. This means that open burning is only permitted when the Venting Index is rated GOOD, not FAIR or POOR. 

For more details, see the Ventilation Index Forecast on the right and the interactive map below.

Open Burning of Landclearing Debris

Open burning of landclearing debris and stumps is banned in all Electoral Areas under the Landclearing Management Regulation Bylaw No. 2020. The minimum fine is $1,000 for illegal burning.

Landclearing debris and stumps can only be burned with the use of an air curtain or trench burner in accordance with the BC Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation. 

All landclearing burns must be registered with the CVRD using the Open Burn Registration Form prior to ignition.

Burning Prohibited Materials

Burning of construction debris and other prohibited materials is banned under the Provincial Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation. A person who burns prohibited materials can face fines of up to $200,000. 

Burning of waste generated from an industry, trade or business is prohibited at all times by the Environmental Management Act.