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Regional district looking at ‘absolute ban’ on open burning for part of Cortes Island

Whether campfires are included is to be determined — SRD Staff
A representational campfire image. A new bylaw is in the works to ban open burning for the South Cortes fire protection area. (Wikimedia common)

The Strathcona Regional District is moving forward with a plan to impose an “absolute ban” on open burning within the South Cortes Island Fire Protection Area.

The board moved to have staff prepare a bylaw that would ban open burning within the fire protection area at the Sept. 13 board meeting. The item was passed without discussion.

At the Aug. 16 Electoral Area Services Committee Meeting, Corporate Services Manager Tom Yates told the committee that “it’s a little more complex than maybe considered initially.”

The bylaw must be understandable by a “reasonable person,” according to the local government act. It also has to be specific in which regulations it will impose, and can’t simply have a blanket statement.

“The regional district would have to decide what regulations if any it wants to have in place, rather than just simply have something that says ‘when the province is bowing out, okay we’ll continue those regulations,’” he said.

The motion’s language mirrored that of the province, specifically the term “open burning.” Under provincial rules, that includes everything from campfires to prescribed burning.

“The intent is to control open burning on Cortes Island when local conditions warrant and Provincial open burning restrictions are not in place,” Yates said. “At this point we don’t know if campfires will be defined in the same manner as they are under Provincial regulations but that may become known as we progress through the bylaw process.”

The bylaw, if passed, would only take effect within the South Cortes Fire Protection Area, as local regulations can only be put in place if a local agency exists. Anything else is provincial jurisdiction.

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