COVID-19 Response: Outdoor burning ban extended, non-essential travel and camping discouraged

April 7, 2020
[Sooke, BC]

COVID-19 response: outdoor burning ban extended, non-essential travel and camping discouraged

Outdoor burning has been prohibited in Sooke since March 26, 2020 due to its location within a High Smoke Sensitivity Zone (SSZ). To further reduce the likelihood of human-caused fires, effective at noon, Thursday, April 16, 2020, open burning activities will be prohibited throughout British Columbia, regardless of the Smoke Sensitivity Zoning. The exception is backyard campfires, which are still permitted – clean split wood only, contained ring, maximum two feet in diameter, and at least twenty feet from property lines and structures.

The following activities are prohibited, and these restrictions will remain in effect until the public is otherwise notified:

  • Category 2 open fires;
  • Category 3 open fires;
  • Resource Management open fires;
  • the use of fireworks;
  • the use of sky lanterns; and
  • the use of burn barrels or burn cages of any size or description.

These prohibitions apply to all public and private land within British Columbia.

Categories of open burning
Map of the affected areas

Non-essential travel, camping and movement through communities

On April 2, the Provincial Health Officer discouraged all non-essential travel within BC, particularly to smaller communities (like Sooke) where there might not be the resources to support people who become ill or should there be transmission in those communities.

“For now, we pause – stay in – and dream of later. The more we do today, the sooner we can #explore BC again.” Destination BC

It is understandable that many people are eager to get out of the house and spend time outdoors; however, provincial parks are not where people should be congregating right now. Set up a tent and camp out in your backyard – enjoy a small campfire. Build an obstacle course to keep your family active – create a fun outside space to hang out. Watch some inspiring Destination BC videos. Dream about, and plan your next adventure.

Role of Bylaw Officers as outlined by the Province:

  • Not direct enforcers of public health orders; their role is to support compliance and enforcement, including through monitoring, education, warnings and reporting.
  • Are to be guided by policy direction from the Provincial Health Officer regarding public health orders.
  • Officers are not authorized to detain an individual as a result of a contravention or suspected contravention of a public health order.
  • Officers are also not authorized to exercise any authority to issue a fine or penalty in regard to public health orders.

General Expectations of Bylaw Officers in Supporting Public Health Orders:

The aim of public health orders is to manage and reduce the spread of COVID-19 by encouraging physical distancing, and provide assistance with Public Health Act orders with the following principles in mind:

  • Public education and voluntary compliance without the need for law enforcement interventions.
  • A balanced approach to maintain public trust to ensure essential services can operate while following public health Orders.

Read the full guidance document here:
Ministry of Health – Enforcement Guidance – Public Health Orders and Physical Distancing

District of Sooke website – information links:


Media Contact:
Matt Barney, Emergency Program Coordinator & EOC Director
District of Sooke Fire Rescue
250-642-5422 ext. 638 |

District Contact and Social Media Channels:
Twitter: @SookeCa
Facebook: Emergency Program
District Phone: 250-642-1634
Fax: 250-642-0541
District Email:
Staff Email: Directory
Fire Dept. Phone: 250-642-5422

Fax: 250-642-3840