Can I burn? What? When? How? Helpful factsheet from Ministry of Environment

Jul 29, 2016
Affected Communities: 
All Areas

The Ministry of Environment recently developed a fact sheet that outlines the environmental laws that apply to burning in BC.

The fact sheet is available at:

In addition to meeting the Environmental Management Act requirements outlined in this factsheet, anyone burning material also must comply with any local bylaws that exist for fire protection and/or air quality.

Backyard burning of garbage and other “prohibited materials” is not allowed under provincial law, except with specific authorization.  Air pollution from burning of waste contains toxic pollutants, can generate plumes of smoke which are unsightly and/or a public safety concern, can generate odors, and can result in public complaints.  

“Backyard burning” is the practice of burning waste material with or without vegetative debris on private property. Generally the practice of burning anything other than clean raw wood requires permission under Environmental Management Act. For example, burning demolition waste or household garbage in a burning barrel is illegal. You cannot mix waste materials with vegetative debris as a way to dispose of the waste material. “Open burning” refers to the practice of burning materials - usually vegetative material - in the open without any enclosed chamber or stack. Open burning typically occurs without forced air or other emission reduction technology.

Alternatives to burning are strongly encouraged. Disposal alternatives include: reuse practices, drop off centres which promote reuse opportunities, recycling, compost facilities, landfilling materials where authorized, or shipping materials to be used as fuel in an authorized facility.

The Open Burning Smoke Regulation applies to burning vegetative material, and this regulation is currently under review.

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