Just enforce the current near-total ban

Re: "N. Cowichan burning bans long overdue", (Citizen, Feb. 24)

Re: “N. Cowichan burning bans long overdue”, (Citizen, Feb. 24)

The above-noted editorial ignores the fact that we already effectively have a near-total ban on outdoor burning. While the municipality has a four week burning window spring and fall, citizens are only legally allowed to burn on days with the appropriate venting index as determined by the Ministry of Environment.

It’s not uncommon to have only two or three days in each four-week window with a suitable venting index. So that means residents of North Cowichan generally only have four to six days a year where they are legally allowed to burn outside.

Compliance with a law is a function of the likelihood of getting caught breaking the law and of the consequences if one does get caught. From my home I can often see fires burning on days where the venting index is less than legally required.

It should be very simple to enforce the current law when someone is burning on a day without the right venting index, yet I’ve never seen anything in your newspaper or on the North Cowichan website publicizing information on people being ticketed for illegal burning. If North Cowichan is not enforcing the current near-total ban, what is the justification for introducing a more draconian bylaw along with ramped-up enforcement and higher fines?

It is completely unreasonable for the clean-air zealots to claim that four to six days of legal burning a year with a good venting index constitutes a real risk to human health and safety, especially since a good venting index means that the smoke is being well dispersed.

North Cowichan should spend a year or two making a sincere effort at enforcing the current burning regime before enacting the unnecessarily draconian proposed total ban.


Dan Graham

North Cowichan