A smoky Cowichan sky in the winter. (Barry Boucher photo)

Editorial: Full ban on backyard burning a must for Cowichan

Last week we had our first air quality advisory of the fall/winter season.

Smoke is once again sitting in a haze over many areas of the Cowichan Valley, and we cannot blame it on far away wildfires this time.

Last week we had our first air quality advisory of the fall/winter season. Sadly, it likely won’t be the last.

Year after year we experience these advisories, but things don’t seem to be getting much better. In 2014 the Cowichan Valley Regional District, Island Health and 10 other partners put together Cowichan’s Regional Airshed Protection Strategy. In it, the first thing they did was define the problem.

What they found through an air quality study was that the biggest culprits are local open burning, wood burning appliances and forest fires in other regions, this last confined to summer. Open burning alone accounted for 53 per cent of total emissions, by far the biggest source.

And yet many of our local governments have continued to allow the antiquated practice of backyard burning in the spring and fall. The Town of Lake Cowichan is one of the few who has completely banned backyard burning, for which they deserve much credit. Areas outside of the town boundaries, however, are not under the same restrictions. This time of year it is particularly dire, as people rake up their damp leaves and set them ablaze, raising columns of smoke so dense and black it looks like their house is on fire.

The fact of the matter is that there are too many people who do not burn responsibly, and so the only solution is a full ban, as Lake Cowichan has done.

The issue of smoky skies goes beyond mere annoyance from neighbours (and defining neighbours, when it comes smoke, which travels far and wide, is a broad affair). There are very real health concerns. If you are one of the lucky ones whose breathing isn’t bothered by the fine particulates going up in smoke, thank your lucky stars and try to have some empathy for the rest of us.

Island Health has found that admission rates for children with respiratory diseases was 70 per cent higher in Cowichan than provincial rates. Asthma diagnosis for five- to 45-year-olds was 14 per cent higher, and chronic respiratory illness for those over 45 was 50 per cent higher.

People have other options. It is free to take yard waste to the CVRD’s transfer stations. And yet, people still burn. When are all of our local governments going to follow Lake Cowichan’s lead, do the responsible thing, and bring in a full ban?

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Queen Margaret’s School graduates celebrate

Queen Margaret’s School held their Speech Day (convocation) with 15 graduates on site

Community pride always showed in Mansueti’s work

Retirement reflections revolve around so many projects and successes

Cowichan Valley rower takes aim at the moon

The 14-year-old took part in the Row to the Moon Challenge

BLM sign vandalized at Sylvan United Church

Minister hopes to have conversation with vandal

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

PHOTOS: Dual rallies take over Legislature lawn on Canada Day

Resist Canada 153 highlighted colonization and genocide, Unify the People called COVID a hoax

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

Victoria police investigating possible hate crime on BC Transit bus

A young Black man was randomly struck by a Caucasian man who he did not know

UPDATE: No COVID-19 at Nanaimo shopping centre as memo mixed up mall identities

Woodgrove Centre sent memo to tenants Tuesday advising them of positive case

‘A little bit scary for everybody’: Air passengers wary as new rules take effect

Masks or face coverings have been mandatory on flights since April 20

Most Read