Burning and Air Quality

October 28, 2022

Update to the Coastal Fire Centre Burning Prohibition

Effective at noon on Friday October 28, 2022, open burning will once again be permitted in the Coastal Fire Centre jurisdiction, due to current and expected rainfall, along with a return to seasonal temperatures. Read more from the Coastal Fire Centre here. Burning will be permitted until November 15, 2022.

Be sure to review the requirements below before starting a burn. Residents are reminded that CVRD Recycling Centres accept residential yard waste FREE of charge! 


Open Burning in the CVRD

Open burning in CVRD Electoral Areas A, B, C, D, E, and G is regulated under Smoke Control Bylaw No. 3716. Burning is only permitted from March 15 to April 15, and October 15 to November 15. All burning must be set in accordance with federal or provincial regulations.

Burning in Areas F, H, and I is regulated by the Ministry of Environment; residents should check the current bans and restrictions before starting a burn.

For all Areas, when burning is permitted:

  • Check the 4:00 BC Venting Index projection for Southern Vancouver Island before you burn (or call 1.888.281.2992) 
    • Open burning is only allowed when the Southern Vancouver Island Venting Index is rated GOOD for 4:00 pm on the day you want to burn
  • All burning must occur between 7:00 a.m. and sunset of the same day
  • Open burning is limited to only one hand-piled fire not greater than two metres wide and two metres high and must be continually supervised
  • Only untreated natural wood, prunings or branches can be burned (NO leaves, grass clippings, garbage or construction waste)
  • Open burning must be located at least 10 metres from all property lines

There are alternatives to open burning:

  • The CVRD provides free yard and garden waste drop-off at local Recycling Centres
  • Private waste management facilities offer free or low-cost yard and garden drop-off
  • Chip and reuse material on site

For more information, visit our Know the Rules page

Smoke Pollution and Your Health

Smoke pollution from open burning can seriously impact your health, as well as the health and well-being of your family and neighbours. The CVRD and partners have set up a network of air quality sensors for residents to check out real-time air pollution levels in the Cowichan region

Responsible Backyard Burning

Chemicals found in backyard burn smoke or improperly used woodstove smoke can include dioxins, furans, arsenic, mercury, PCBs, lead, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, hydrochloric acid and fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

To protect and improve air quality in the Cowichan Region, the CVRD has drafted two bylaws that regulate backyard burning and land clearing debris burning. Want to promote healthy hearts and lungs instead? Visit our Alternatives to Open Burning page.

If you heat your home with a wood stove, you may be eligible for a rebate through the Woodstove Replacement Program