OPINION - We need a better bylaw for this burning issue

OPINION – We need a better bylaw for this burning issue

It’s time to start putting out fires in Princeton

With temperatures plummeting during an unseasonable cold snap there is no better time to talk about fires.

Specifically, Princeton needs to talk about what you can burn, and where you can burn it.

As it stands now, that’s pretty much everything and any place that strikes your fancy.

The municipality’s open burning bylaw is so out of date, it was actually written when Trudeau was prime minister.

That would be the first Prime Minister Trudeau.

Princeton’s open burning bylaw – which is formally called a bylaw to “prohibit the fouling or contamination of the atmosphere within the municipality” – is woefully inadequate and provides no cover for bylaw enforcement when it comes to complaints about smelly, smoky, and potentially harmful fires.

The bylaw simply disallows open burning between April 15th and October 15th of each year.

That’s it.

If a member of the public calls town hall and asks if it’s permitted to burn leaves in the fall, for example, the answer is that the practice is very much discouraged but it’s not against municipal law.

It’s just not enough.

Provincial legislation covering burning and emissions is comprehensive. Therefore under the Environmental Management Act one isn’t allowed to burn carpets, say. You can’t burn paint, or animal carcasses, rubber, domestic waste, manure or plastics and so on…it’s a very long list.

Of course that law applies to everyone in BC, no matter where they live. The fines for contravention can range up to $1 million.

However a local prosecution under the EMA is unlikely.

Pursuing such a case through the upper courts would cost tens of thousands of dollars and prove a lengthy endeavor.

That’s why municipalities have bylaws that effectively parrot provincial laws and wisdom, so enforcement is practical.

The burning issue isn’t fire danger and preventing forest fires.

The overwhelming concerns with open burning are air quality, the emission of toxins, and unsightly odor and smoke.

Who wants to step outside into their backyard on a crisp December morning to discover the neighbor is roasting drywall and railway ties?

This is not a hard fix.

There are numerous bylaws from other communities that could serve as working models for Princeton. Surely political will is on the side of clean air and happy campers.

The Open Air Burning Regulations Bylaw for the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is nine pages, fairly straightforward and was last updated when Stephen Harper was in office.

That might be a good place to start.

Given everything that has been learned over the last 35 years about the importance of air quality Princeton just needs to get this done.

-AD

Just Posted

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

RCMP thanked the public for assistance in finding Benjamin Archie, last seen in Princeton. (RCMP)
Missing Chilliwack man found safe and sound

The 80-year-old had walked away from his home in Chilliwack

.
Princeton’s Spotlight wins two provincial awards for excellence

Publisher takes first place for investigative reporting

Princeton GSAR responds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2020 the crew was called out 34 times, and members spent 721 hours on calls, and 683 hours training. Photo Princeton GSAR Facebook
Teen missing in Manning Park found after 24 hours

Young man spends night on mountain and survives with just a few scrapes

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

A young child has been taken to hospital after being struck by a vehicle on 30th Avenue in Vernon Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Investigation ongoing after child struck by vehicle downtown Vernon

A young child was taken to hospital Friday with undetermined injuries

David Larsen, left, and co-host Tony Peyton. (K96.3/Twitter)
Popular Kelowna radio host dies after battle with cancer

David Larsen was half of the longtime Kelowna morning-show duo David and Tony

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

Most Read