content top

Negative Changes to the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation

The BC Government is planning to make some very negative changes to the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation. Please feel free to send you opinion to: OBSCR@gov.bc.ca (they need to know how people feel).

Dear Mr. Kellerhaus,

Further to Jay Gilden’s e-mail below, I also wish to thank you for the webinar last week. Although the webinar was informative, I see no meaningful change in improving the air quality associated with the airsheds of the Skeena Region, In fact a worsening due to the geographical extent in what is currently being proposed as a low intensity zone with general relaxing of standards. Voices for Good Air, an affiliate of Clean Air Now, is primarily concerned with the amount of forestry slash burning and associated prolonged poor air quality throughout the fall months.

Between Burns Lake & Smithers (Lakes, Morice & Bulkley Timber Supply Areas) we witnessed close to 30,000 slash piles (assuming 2 slash piles per ha area logged) burnt last fall, an increase of 10,000 over the year before. Some of the piles were stacked in August and set on fire in late Sept., insufficient time for adequate curing of wood. With the relaxation of “no limit to burn duration” in the low intensity zone (of which forestry practices general occur), there is no need by the forest industry to address moisture content of slash piles prior to ignition. If MOE insists on the 3 zonation system, then it must address slash pile moisture content if the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation (OBSCR) is to relax burn duration altogether.

The majority of people who reside in NW BC, choose to do so because of their historic connection to the land, passion of outdoor activities and pursuit of sustainable lifestyles. While many of us work in natural resource extraction industries, we also want to ensure that our footprint is minimal and contributes to healthy environments, and thus sustainable economies by default. As presently proposed, the OBSCR fails to adequately recognize:

1)    zonations that fail to recognize the nature and dynamics of smoke distribution in airsheds that are mountainous with extensive valleys;

2)    fall tourism of NW BC with respect to semi-remote and remote hunting and steelhead fishing worth millions of dollars annually to the local economies, of which is being eroded by the worsening of air quality over the past few years due to increase slash burning;

3)    the value of one’s quality of life residing in an unpopulated area versus a more populated centre:

4)    publicly expected coordination with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development with respect to smoke toxicity, air quality, better fibre utilization, and greenhouse gas reduction with respect to climate change initiatives.

You have clearly stated that “burning” is not the last resort, but this is not the case at present or in the future if the proposed OBSCR is not significantly modified. Our local Airshed Mgt. Plan is not legal, has no measureable reduction targets and thus not accountable, so we can not rely on this document for certainty.

A mesaage to our elected representatives: It is easy for public servants to state that some of the concerns is not our responsibility, but that of another Ministry/agency, but true leadership coordinates the collective effort of all agencies and rolls out an unified platform, increasing public confidence and trust in goverance. Prior to the fall slash burning fall season, I encourage both Hon. Doug Donaldson and Hon. George Heyman to simultaneously roll out the OBSCR (with modification), the carbon surcharge/tax on slash burning (still outstanding), accountability for slash burning greenhose gases, and an initiative statement for creating less slash (partial cuts for example) and better fibre utilization. I was recently informed by a professional forester within the Coast Mtns Natural Resource District that due to the export market and lack of milling capacity, 50% of merchantable wood is being amalgamated with “slash” for burning; this is not only a theft of the public purse, but irresponsible forest stewardship.

I thank you for the consideration,

Len Vanderstar, B.Sc F., B.Ed., R.P.Bio, R.P.F., RCGS Fellow

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

two × 2 =