The Province’s revised Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation impacts Class A (Cat 3) burning eligibility.

January 27, 2020
[Sooke, BC]

In September 2019, the Ministry of Environment introduced the revised Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation (OBSCR). The new regulation divides the province into ‘sensitivity zones’. The District of Sooke is within the High Sensitivity Zone, meaning many new requirements must be met to get a Class A Burn Permit – including expanded setbacks.

Efforts must also be made to reduce the amount of vegetative debris to be burned through exploration of alternative methods (reducing, reusing or recycling). As the setbacks are now significantly greater, this will reduce eligibility for Class A burns (Category 3 – large, machine built piles) in the District. The revised regulation does not impact the District’s Backyard Burning Regulations (burning garden and yard debris – branches smaller than 3cm in diameter); however, they are currently under review.

Highlights of the OBSCR include, but are not limited to:

  • Wood has to be ‘Seasoned Vegetative Debris’ (dry-basis moisture content within 30%, piled for at least four months, or originating from standing dead timber – not freshly fallen).
  • General setback is 500 meters (formerly 100m) from residence or business buildings; and, 1,000m (formerly 500m) from schools, hospitals or community care facilities. Reduced setbacks may be available for one-day burns, with conditions (no stumps can be burned in reduced setbacks and reasonable efforts to notify all properties within 500m of open burn with 24 hours notice). Reduced setbacks are noted in the OBSCR as a rarity – general setbacks apply for most burning.
  • Venting index for SRN VAN ISLD must be Good on 1st day of burn; and, Good or Fair on 2nd day.
  • Reduced to two consecutive days of burning (formerly three)
  • NOTE that vegetative debris can be moved only within 5km from its original location.

Review the full details: Visit the OBSCR web pages

Check out more highlights: Read the OBSCR General Factsheet

Property owners and land developers are to continue to apply for a Class A (Category 3) burn permit through the District of Sooke Fire Rescue Department. Permits are issued to those who qualify and meet the requirements and conditions under the District’s bylaws, as well as the OBSCR. NOTE that properties must be 10+ acres to be eligible for a Class A burn. Follow the application steps:

  • Review the Provincial Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation and ensure ability to comply.
  • Apply for a Class A permit at Sooke Fire Rescue at 2225 Otter Point Road ($55 fee).
  • Onsite inspection of burn piles by a Fire Officer to ensure no prohibited materials, and compliance with Sooke bylaws and OBSCR.
  • Permittee checks the Venting Index and registers the open burn for inclusion in the province’s Open Fire Tracking System: 1-888-797-1717.

The OBSCR does not generally prohibit burning, but rather aims to ensure that open burning is conducted with minimal risk to air quality. “The province is responding to the known health effects of smoke exposure,” shares Sooke Fire Chief, Kenn Mount. “The revision to the regulation will help address some of the burning-related air quality concerns expressed by residents.”

Learn before you burn. Contact the Sooke Fire Department with questions about open burning: 250.642.5422 or Please note that Violators of local bylaws may be fined or charged with the cost of extinguishing a fire. Violations of the Provincial regulations should be reported to the BC RAPP line as violations of the OBSCR may result in fines of up to $200,000: 1-877-952-7277.

Media Contact:
Kenn Mount
Fire Chief/Director of Community Safety
District of Sooke
250.642.5422 |