The provincial government has issued open burning restrictions for parts of Vancouver Island, including portions of the Strathcona Regional District and Campbell River.
The areas are based on the venting index, and all high smoke sensitivity zones are under the ban. The decision, made by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy is in effect until at least April 15. Under the ban, no new fires may be started, and no additional material can be added to existing fires. Campfires, which are defined as being under 50 cm in diameter and used for heat, cooking or recreation using firewood are still permitted.
The ban is in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A statement from the province reads that “the BC Centre for Disease Control recommends implementing measures that help to reduce excess air pollution in populated airsheds across the province. There is strong evidence that exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory viral infections by decreasing immune function.”
Areas that are particularly sensitive to smoke, which includes the south-eastern side of Vancouver Island from Campbell River to Victoria, have been included as part of the ban as of March 26. The ministry will be monitoring the situation and adjust the boundaries of the ban accordingly.
In the Strathcona Regional District, this affects parts of Gold River, Sayward, Campbell River, Electoral Area D (which was previously announced to be under a partial fire ban by the Comox Valley Regional District), Cortes Island, Quadra Island and the surrounding areas.
An interactive map of areas affected by the open burning ban is available online.