Burning Regulations

Updated March 18, 2021

CAN I BURN? use this tool to find out.


Currently, Open Air Fires (backyard burning) are permitted October 1-May 31 in the District of Sooke, provided the VENTING INDEX (see SRN VAN ISLD region) is at least FAIR. 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.

Concerned about adherence to regulations? Contact Bylaw 250-642-1634 (after hours: 250-642-1633).


The District of Sooke permits Open Air burning in accordance the Fire Protection Services Bylaw.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered an Open Air Fire?

A permissible open-air fire means:

  • the fire is for the purpose of tidying the premises;
  • the fire burns only between sunrise and sunset of the same day;
  • the yard debris is thoroughly dried and fed to the fire in a manner that safely burns the yard debris as quickly as possible;
  • the conditions ensure proper combustion of the yard debris without risk of igniting surrounding material if left unattended;
  • the person supervising the fire takes reasonable precautions to prevent smoke generated
  • the fire is on the person’s property and is 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.

An open-air fire, DOES NOT include:

  • a fire lit for Fire Department training exercises;
  • outdoor cooking fires, provided the fire is contained in a device or fixture designed for such purpose and the fire is only burning clean and dry wood or charcoal;
  • outdoor fires in fire pits approved by the Fire Chief for use in designated campgrounds or tourist parks; and
  • outdoor fires in fire pits, provided that:
    • the fire is contained in a masonry or metal pit not to exceed 0.60 metres (24 inches) in diameter;
    • the fire pit is located a minimum of 6 metres (20 feet) from all property lines and buildings and 3 metres (10 feet) from all grass, shrubbery, wood, and all other combustible material;
    • a garden hose or immediate source of water is readily available at all times the fire is lit; and
    • the fire is not lit before 6:00 AM and is fully extinguished by 1:00 AM (applicable to small campfires only – backyard yard and garden debris during daylight hours only)
What days can I burn and how big can my pile be?

Open-air burning of yard and garden debris is permitted in Sooke from October 1st to May 31st each year, subject to general conditions, including:

RESIDENTS WHO LIVE WITHIN the Sewer Specified Area (SSA) and on properties smaller than 2500 sq meters (0.6 acres), open burning of yard and garden debris is allowed without a permit subject to the above general conditions and only on days when the BC Government Venting Index for Southern Vancouver Island (SRN VAN ISLD) is rated Fair or Good.

RESIDENTS WHO LIVE WITHIN the Sewer Specified Area (SSA) and on properties greater than 2500 sq meters (0.6 acres), open burning of yard and garden debris is allowed without a permit any day subject to the above general conditions and the following size limitations:

  • On properties up to 0.8 hectares (2 acres) the fire cannot exceed 1m x 2m x 2m (3ft x 6 ft x 6ft) in size.
  • On properties larger than 0.8 hectares (2 acres) and up to 2 hectares (5 acres) – 2 piles of the above size or 1 pile not to exceed 2m x 2 m x 2m (6ft x 6ft x 6ft) in size.
  • On properties larger than 2 hectares (5 acres) the maximum burn pile size cannot exceed 2m x 3m x 3m (6 ft x 9 ft x 9ft)
  • No Permit Required

RESIDENTS WHO LIVE OUTSIDE the Sewer Specified Area (SSA)for residents on septic, and outside of the core, open burning of yard and garden debris is allowed without a permit any day subject to the above general conditions and the following size limitations:

  • On properties up to 0.8 hectares (2 acres) the fire cannot exceed 1m x 2m x 2m (3ft x 6 ft x 6ft) in size.
  • On properties larger than 0.8 hectares (2 acres) and up to 2 hectares (5 acres) – 2 piles of the above size or 1 pile not to exceed 2m x 2 m x 2m (6ft x 6ft x 6ft) in size.
  • On properties larger than 2 hectares (5 acres) the maximum burn pile size cannot exceed 2m x 3m x 3m (6 ft x 9 ft x 9ft)
  • No Permit Required
What is the venting index? How do I find out if the Venting Index is good?

The Ventilation Index ranges from 0 to 100: 0-33 being poor; 34-54 being fair; 55-100 being good and is used to communicate how sufficient smoke can be dispersed. Sooke currently falls under “SRN VAN ISLD” on the venting index. 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.

If the property is located in the Sewer Specified Area (not on septic), the Ministry of Environment Venting Index for the SRN VAN ISLD region must indicate GOOD or FAIR on the day you wish to burn. View the Venting Index online or call 1-888-281-2992 and “2” to verify the current venting index for South Vancouver Island.

Is a Permit 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


Additional Information

At the November 16, 2020 Committee of the Whole, it was MOVED:

THAT the Committee of the Whole recommends to Council that staff be directed to amend the Fire Protection Services Bylaw No. 292, 2007 to include Option 1 of the staff report, which states:

  • Burning Season: November 1st to April 30th annually
  • Venting Index Category for SRN VAN ISLND: District-wide, for all properties inside and outside of the Sewer Specified Area (SSA), the venting index category must indicate ‘GOOD’ on morning (7am) or afternoon (4pm) rating on Ministry of Environment Venting Index.

READ the meeting minute or WATCH the recording of the November 16, 2020 Committee of the Whole Meeting.

As of March 18, 2021, staff anticipate presenting the amended bylaw to Council in April/May 2021. SUBSCRIBE to meeting notifications to receive public meeting agendas delivered to your inbox or opt-in to receive information updates as new information regarding burning regulations becomes available.