Langford moves to limit open burning

Langford is phasing out open burning — initially limiting permitted burns to larger properties and restricting the number of burning permits issued on any given day.

Effective in January, open burning will be restricted to properties that are half an acre or larger.

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Under the new regulations, residents will have to apply for a burning permit and burning will be restricted to between Feb. 15 and March 15, and Oct. 15 and Nov. 10.

In an attempt to mitigate the amount of smoke, the municipality will be divided into four zones with only 20 permits (five per zone) issued for each of the burn days.

“We’ve got small lots out here now. The fire department’s been on us and we’re getting complaints about the amount of burning, so we’re trying to control it a bit,” Mayor Stew Young said. “We’ll phase this in and we’ll see how it goes.”

According to a staff report, the new regulations were recommended due to increasing complaints and “overwhelming scientific data related to the health hazard and risks associated with open burning.”

Residents on small lots should be able to compost their yard and garden waste, Young said.

“We’re just saying, if you’re on a small lot, you can’t burn right next to your neighbour and smoke him out,” he said.

Langford parks committee chairman Lanny Seaton said the change is a reflection of a growing community. Eventually, the city likely will ban outdoor burning, he said.

“It’s in the areas where the lots are small, the burning is not working too well,” Seaton said.

“On the bigger lots out Happy Valley way, where there are farms, they still want to burn, which is natural.”

Six of the 13 municipalities in the Capital Regional District ban outdoor burning: Colwood, View Royal, Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Victoria and Sidney.

Saanich has a ban on outdoor burning within its urban containment boundary.

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