A mantle of smoke overhangs the city of Port Alberni, indicating a thermal inversion of the sort that commonly traps harmful smoke particulate in winter. (MIKE YOUDS PHOTO)

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District one step closer to burning bylaws

ACRD staff make amendments after public engagement

After a year of public engagement, the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) is making changes to its proposed burning bylaws that will improve air quality in the Alberni Valley.

ACRD staff have been working on two burning bylaws. The first bylaw regulates wood-burning appliances within the ACRD (such as woodstoves) and requires that appliances conform to CSA/EPA standards or be permanently disconnected and removed.

The second bylaw regulates open burning within the six electoral areas of the ACRD (Bamfield, Beaver Creek, Beaufort, Cherry Creek, Long Beach and Sproat Lake), with rules about the time of year and time of day, size of fires, number of fires on a parcel of land, setbacks from combustible materials, permitted burning materials and a few other provisions.

The ACRD board last discussed these bylaws in June 2020, and agreed that more public engagement was needed.

READ MORE: Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District moves on new burning restrictions

Planning manager Alex Dyer told the board on June 9, 2021 that a survey from the ACRD collected more than 900 responses. No in-person public sessions were held due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“As staff we were very pleased with the level of engagement,” said Dyer. “So planning staff have updated the bylaws with the proposed amendments reflecting the input that we’ve received.”

Some of the amendments that were made to the bylaws include:

– People will have until July 2024 to upgrade their old woodstoves that are not in compliance with the bylaw. The previous deadline was July 2023.

– An exemption to the woodstove bylaw will be provided for people using modified woodstoves for farm product processing.

– The fall burning period has been adjusted to Sept. 15—Nov. 15. The previous burning period was Sept. 30—Nov. 30. The amendment further restricts burning during the colder period that is more susceptible to atmospheric inversions.

The ACRD board voted to refer the proposed burning regulations to an upcoming Electoral Area Directors Committee meeting for further discussion. The meeting has not been scheduled yet. The proposal would then go back to the ACRD board for final adoption.

Beaver Creek director John McNabb noted that the bylaws have been in the works for years.

“If we find something that doesn’t work, we can amend it,” he said. “But the air quality in some of our communal areas is just awful. We really need to move ahead with this. It’s important to our health, our children’s health.”

You can read more about the ACRD’s proposed burning bylaws online at www.acrd.bc.ca/burning-bylaw-review.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.comLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Alberni Valley News