Burning Regulations

Concerned about adherence to the regulations? Contact Bylaw 250-642-1634. In case of fire that is an immediate threat to life or property, always call 9-1-1.

Updated July 10, 2024

Current Fire Danger Rating: EXTREME

Extreme: Extremely dry forest fuels and the fire risk is very serious. New fires will start easily, spread rapidly, and challenge fire suppression efforts. General forest activities may be restricted, including open burning, industrial activities and campfires.

Current Ventilation Index

Backyard burning in Sooke permitted ONLY when reading is GOOD to adequately allow smoke to disperse. When the venting index is good, burning is permitted November 1-April 30.


  • (November 1, 2023): Backyard burning is permitted in Sooke only on days when the venting index is GOOD from November 1 to April 30. Please check the index before you burn.
  • (October 16, 2023) REMINDER: Backyard permitted is NOT permitted in Sooke until November 1st and only on days when the venting index is good.
  • (September 26, 2023) Effective, Wednesday, September 27, 2023 at 12:00 pm, the campfire prohibition is lifted. Campfires are now permitted in the District of Sooke. Always keep your campfire small, ensure it has a fuel-free area around it (20 feet from property lines and structures), never leave it unattended, have a water source present and ensure it is fully out (cool to the touch) before leaving the area.
  • Backyard Burning season is CLOSED. Burning of garden and yard debris is permitted in Sooke from November 1 to April 30 ONLY and when the venting index is GOOD (on either the 7:00 AM or 4:00 PM reading). Check the Venting Index for SRN VAN ISLD Fires must be completely extinguished at sunset. Review the Frequently Asked Questions below for further information around pile sizes, distancing requirements and safe practices.
  • Backyard Burning Rack Card >>
  • Alternatives to Backyard Burning Rack Card >>
  • Bylaw No. 292, Fire Protection Services Bylaw – June 1, 2021

Burning Regulation Bylaw Frequently Asked Questions

What changed with the amendments to the burning regulation bylaw that came into effect on June 1, 2021? Why were these changes made?

The burning season has changed. Previously, Open Air Fires were permitted during the months of October – May. Now, Open Air fires are permitted November 1 – April 30.

The previous bylaw had different considerations depending on where in the District you are located. As of June 1, 2021 there are no longer different rules for different locations and the venting index must be GOOD whether burning inside or outside the Sewer Specified Area.

We’re listening. Through community input, residents have requested action for the environment and enhancing air quality. This is one step as we respond to what the community has expressed as a priority.

Smoke is not confined to property boundaries making it difficult to monitor and respond to concerns, many of which are about air quality. Burning when the venting index is GOOD allows smoke to disperse, lessening the impact on air quality. By applying the same regulations within the District’s jurisdiction improves our ability to support the community’s interest in a healthier environment for all of us.

What is considered an Open-Air Fire?

Open Air Fire regulations apply to fires that are neither an outdoor cooking fire, nor an outdoor fire in a firepit. See the definition of “open-air fire” in the District of Sooke Fire Protection Services Bylaw No. 292, 2007. Generally, these are fires that are used to clear residential yard debris.

What is considered a campfire or cooking fire? When are campfires or cooking fires permitted?

Campfires and cooking fires are those that are contained to a device such as a fire pit that is 0.60 metres (24 inches in diameter) and is burning only clean, dry wood, or charcoal. Generally, these are fires used for recreational purposes.

Campfires and cooking fires are permitted year-round, provided there are no Provincial Fire Bans in place. Provincial fire bans are issued due to high wildfire risk and apply to all public and private land.

With Open-Air burning, when can I burn? How big can my open-air fire be?

Open-air burning of yard and garden debris is permitted in Sooke from November 1st to April 30th each year, when the BC Government Venting Index for Southern Vancouver Island (SRN VAN ISLD) is rated Good.

The size of your open-air fire is dependent on your property size:

  • On properties up to 2 acres: 1 burn pile up to 1m x 2m x 2m (3ft high and 6 feet in diameter)
  • On properties 2-5 acres: 2 piles of the above size, or 1 pile up to 2m x 2 m x 2m (6ft high and 6ft in diameter)
  • On properties larger than 5 acres: 1 pile up to 2m x 3m x 3m (6ft high and 9ft in diameter); or, up to four piles that are no larger than 1m x 2m x 2m (3ft high and 6 feet in diameter)

No permit is required in these instances.

ALWAYS check the venting index before you burn:

What is the venting index? How do I find out if the Venting Index is GOOD?

The ventilation index is a measure of how weather conditions will impact the dispersion of smoke. View the Venting Index below. Alternately, you can call 1-888-281-2992 and press “2” to verify the current venting index for South Vancouver Island.

The District is working with the Ministry of Environment to have additional sensors installed locally for more accurate readings; however, the installation of these sensors and configurations with the venting index database will take time. As soon as more information is available, this page will be updated.

What are the rules about burning close to other houses?

Fires must be entirely within the private property of the person lighting the fire and must be at least 6 metres (20 feet) from all property lines and buildings and at least 3 metres (10 feet) away from any wild grassland, shrubs, trees and wooden fence.

How do I report a concern about a backyard burn?

In case of fire that is an immediate threat to life or property, always call 9-1-1. If you have a concern or complaint related to a backyard burn that is not an emergency, call the District of Sooke at (250) 642-1634.

When are permits required?

Permits are required only for land clearing or machine-built piles on properties greater than 10 acres. A permit can be applied for at the fire department and are subject to the applicable Provincial Regulations (ie. Open Burning Smoke Control Regulations).

What is prohibited in relation to burning?

The following are prohibited year-round:

  • Burn barrels and incinerators
  • Burning garbage
  • Burning construction waste
  • Burning treated lumber
  • Burning paint of biochemical waste
  • Burning animal products
  • Noxious fumes
What are the fines for not adhering to the Fire Protection Services Bylaw?

The first offence is $200.00; the second offence is $400.00