A ban on Category 2 open fires is coming into effect Thursday at noon, the Coastal Fire Centre has confirmed.
The ban will apply throughout the Coastal Fire Centre, said fire information officer Marg Drysdale.
“Category 2 is largely backyard burning or debris burning,” she said. “Those are going to be prohibited.”
In a media release, she said the prohibition applies to “the burning of any material (piled or unpiled) smaller than two metres high and three metres wide” and “the burning of stubble or grass over an area less than 2,000 square metres.”
The ban also covers “fireworks, firecrackers, sky lanterns, burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description,” along with “the use of binary exploding targets (e.g., for rifle target practice).”
The Coastal Fire Centre includes roughly 16.5 million hectares of land in southwest B.C., including the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Haida Gwaii.
Campfires will still be allowed – those are defined as any fire half a metre high and half a metre wide or smaller – along with cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes.
Category 3 burns, which are larger industrial fires that require a registration number, are also still allowed.
“We also do site visits and monitor those very carefully,” Drysdale said.
The prohibition applies to all public and private land unless specified otherwise, for example, in a local government bylaw, she said.
“Check with local government authorities for any other restrictions before lighting any fire,” she said, noting that a poster explaining the different categories of open burning is available online at www.gov.bc.ca/openfireregs.
The ban will have little effect on people living in Campbell River and the immediate surrounding area, but it will affect large parts of the Strathcona Regional District.
Thomas Doherty, chief of the Campbell River Fire Department, said that open fires larger than 60 cm in diameter are banned year-round in Campbell River proper.
That includes an area that runs from Jubilee Parkway to Orange Point Road, and west to Highway 19.
In an area immediately surrounding the city, residents can obtain permits for open burns, but those are available only in October and April, with some exceptions.
Shaun Koopman, protective services coordinator for the Strathcona Regional District, explained that some parts of the SRD have their own specific laws, but large areas fall under the BC Wildfire Act, meaning they follow bans issued by the Coastal Fire Centre.
“There’s five municipalities within the Strathcona Regional District, four villages and a city, which each have their own bylaws,” Koopman said, adding that part of Quadra Island and the Black Creek-Oyster Bay fire service area also have their own jurisdictions. “And then there’s the rest that just falls under the BC Wildfire Act.”
All jurisdictions try to follow the same general guidelines, he said.