Burning Regulations

Updated September 29, 2021

Concerned about adherence to the regulations? Contact Bylaw 250-642-1634

  • Campfires are permitted (clean, split wood only): in a masonry or metal ring up to two feet across, 20 feet from property lines and structures, with a water source nearby. Permitted 6:00 AM to 1:00 AM.
  • Backyard Burning season is closed (burning of garden and yard debris): Backyard Burning is permitted in Sooke, November 1-April 30, provided the Venting Index for SRN VAN ISLD is GOOD (7:00 AM or 4:00 PM reading) within all areas of Sooke, both inside and outside of the Sewer Specified Area (SSA). Must be completely extinguished at sunset.
  • Backyard Burning Rack Card >>
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Backyard Burning in Sooke

Open Air Fires (backyard burning) are permitted November 1-April 30 in the District of Sooke, provided that the 7 AM or 4 PM VENTING INDEX (see SRN VAN ISLD region) is GOOD. Effective June 1, 2021 this applies to properties both within AND outside the Sewer Specified Area. Please read the full regulations and frequently asked questions below regarding pile sizes, days permitted to burn, and more. Propane fire rings and small campfires in a contained ring (2 feet max), clean split wood, are also permitted. Beach fires are prohibited within the District of Sooke year-round.

*** In case of fire that is an immediate threat to life or property, always call 9-1-1.***

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

What has changed with the new amendments to the bylaw? 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.

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 online. To find Sooke’s venting index, look for the “SRN VAN ISLD” listing. 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