Langford’s new burning regs aim to improve air quality for everyone

Only those on large lots will be issued outdoor burning permits

New burning regulations now in effect for Langford will drastically change how residents rid themselves of fallen leaves and branches this autumn.

The old rules allowed residents to burn on their lots the first Friday and Saturday of the month, from October to May. Starting this season, in a bid to reduce harmful air pollution for the entire municipality, new bylaws have been put into effect that restrict burning to two month-long periods, Nov. 1 to 30 and Feb. 15 to March 15. Anyone wanting to burn during those times also has to apply for a permit through the Langford Fire Department.

“This has really been driven by the citizens,” said assistant chief Chris Aubrey. “We’ve had numerous feedback over the years about air quality and smoke. Every day we had a burn day, we’d get concerned citizens calling in saying, ‘my kid’s got asthma,’ or asking why there was so much smoke.”

One of the most significant changes is that burning permits will only be issued to residents with a lot size of a half acre or greater.

“If you think about the CRD smoking regulations, you have to be 30 feet from public doorways and windows, because people were being affected by second-hand smoke,” Aubrey said. “This is the same sort of thing. If you only have a few feet between you and your neighbour, the smoke blows directly into their yard.”

A limit of 20 burn permits per day will be issued, with approval on a first-come, first-served basis. Households are limited to two permits per burning period.

In spreading outdoor burning over a longer period, the hope is to mitigate the heavy clouds of smoke that have traditionally hung over Langford and caused health concerns, Aubrey said.

Another major change, he added, is a ban on burning in what are considered “fire hazard areas” – heavily forested or remote areas where the “potential of a fire getting out of hand is too much of a risk to residents.” Residents can find a map outlining banned areas on the City of Langford website.

“We recognize most communities around us have banned (outdoor) burning altogether,” Aubrey said. He encouraged residents to think about the “Three Cs” if burning is not an option: chipping, composting or commercial disposal.

For more information on the new regulations, visit cityoflangford.ca.

acowan@goldstreamgazette.com