Backyard burning is an offence

  • Sep. 24, 2007 6:00 a.m.

Submitted by James Hilgemann-This article is intended to clarify and dispel any misconceptions that still exist out there that backyard burning is an acceptable means of disposing of residential refuse and demolition debris in BC.These activities, which some islanders still believe are a right of passage here, are actually regulated under the Environment Management Act. And without a permit or approval, these activities constitute an offence and violators may be charged. The minimum prescribed fine for first-time offenders is $575.Without going into to much detail, these activities are prescribed under Section 6(3) of the Environment Management Act because they are classified in the waste discharge regulation as “Municipal Solid Waste Management”. The definition of this is as follows: activities and operations for the management, treatment, or discharge of refuse that originates from residential, commercial, institutional, demolition, land clearing or construction sources.In other words, Section 6(3) of EMA states ” a person must not introduce or cause or allow to be introduced into the environment (land, air and water), waste produced by a prescribed activity (burning) or operation”. This also applies to any burn barrels, both residential or commercial waste, burning piles of garbage, or burning garbage in a stove.These activities are harmful to the environment and clearly have an adverse affect on us all. Fortunately, there are many options available to islanders to better deal with their refuse and demolition debris; for example, weekly garbage collection, recycling facilities that exist in all communities and the local transfer stations.The Queen Charlotte Conservation Officer Service receives many complaints each year on this matter. To date, education has been a large part of stopping and preventing this activity. Unfortunately, the burning continues. Escalating enforcement actions may be required in the future to deal with repeat offenders. We hope that everyone educates themselves on this “burning” issue, becomes responsible neighbours, and is prepared for the legal implications of backyard burning.Anyone with information or complaints of illegal burning occurring, please drop by our office, located above City Centre store, Queen Charlotte, or call in to our Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP), toll free 1-877-952-7277. Anonymity is guaranteed.

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