Updated November 3, 2022
Current Fire Rating: LOW
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.
- Backyard Burning season is OPEN (burning of garden and yard debris) from November 1 – April 30. Check the Venting Index for SRN VAN ISLD as it must be GOOD on either the 7:00 AM or 4:00 PM reading. This includes all properties in Sooke – both inside and outside of the Sewer Specified Area (SSA). Fires must be completely extinguished at sunset. Review the Frequently Asked Questions below for further information around pile sizes, distancing requirements and safe practices.
- Campfires are generally permitted year-round, unless prohibited due to an Extreme fire danger rating. 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 at all times and ensure it is fully out (cool to the touch) before leaving the area.
- Backyard Burning Rack Card >>
- Alternatives to Backyard Burning Rack Card >>
- Bylaw No. 292, Fire Protection Services Bylaw – June 1, 2021
- Learn about Fire Danger Ratings here >>
Amendments to the District of Sooke Fire Protection Services Bylaw No. 292, 2007 related to backyard burning came into effect as of June 1, 2021.
WATCH this video to learn more about why these changes were made, and scroll down for answers to frequently asked questions including what you can burn, pile size, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
The first offence is $200.00; the second offence is $400.00