Air quality is a community effort and is endorsed by the Regional Board.
Link to Air Quality Information.
In order to ensure our air quality is as good as it can be the Regional District of Central Okanagan has enacted a bylaw to reduce the emissions from open burning, campfires and wood burning appliances. It regulates when and how smoke from fires can be produced.
The Regional Smoke Control Bylaw No. 773 also provides some respite to those bothered by nuisance smoke. The bylaw is enforced by complaint only and applies to the Electoral Areas of the Regional District, the City of Kelowna, City of West Kelowna and through separate bylaws enacted and enforced by the District of Lake Country and District of Peachland. Residents are encouraged to report anyone illegally burning on a non-burning day by calling the Regional Fire Dispatch Center at 250-469-8577.
View a Consolidated version of Smoke Control Bylaw No. 773. This electronic version of the bylaw is provided for convenience only and is not to be considered the legal document. For more information please contact the Inspection Services Section.
Outdoor Burning Hotline and Burning Alternatives
Current Open Burning Status - Open Burning Ends April 30th - View News Release
Residents with a valid permit are required to check the air quality conditions on the day that they want to burn. Conditions are updated daily at 8:00 am. The conditions can also be accessed by calling 1-855-262-BURN (2876).
The outdoor burning season is regulated in the Central Okanagan East and Central Okanagan West Electoral Areas in part by the Regional Fire Prevention and Regulations Bylaw No. 1066 which is provided in a consolidated, electronic format for convenience only.
Member municipal governments have similar regulations, which empower local fire chiefs with determining the open burning season. The open burning season runs from October 1st through April 30th, and may be lengthened or shortened by the fire chiefs depending on the fire hazard. Outdoor Burning Hotline and Burning Alternatives
- Outdoor burning is banned on all properties that are less than one hectare (2.47 acres) in size in the Central Okanagan East and Central Okanagan West Electoral Areas of the Regional District and in the City of Kelowna, City of West Kelowna, District of Lake Country and District of Peachland.
- A permit is required from your local fire authority for those eligible to burn outdoors.
- During open burning season, before igniting any open fire, the permit holder must confirm that burning is allowed on that day by calling the Outdoor Burning Hotline 1-855-262-2876 which provides the daily Air Quality and Venting Indices. Both indices must be good before burning is allowed. On a day that burning is allowed, it's recommended burning begin later in the morning, as venting conditions are usually better after 10:00am.
Within the Regional District of Central Okanagan there are a few specific circumstances when burning may occur when the venting index is less than 65.
- A local fire department may exempt a permit holder from the venting and air quality regulations when burning is required specifically for a fuel modification project to dispose of fire hazard materials and protect public safety by reducing the potential for interface wildfires. Permit holders may be subject to other conditions from the fire department issuing the permit.
- Areas within the Regional District that are outside of a fire protection area fall under the Provincial Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation. Residents must contact the Regional District at 250-469-6223 to confirm that they are outside of a fire protection area.
For regulations and information regarding Outdoor Burning, please contact your local fire authority.
There are many alternatives to burning in the Central Okanagan. Click here to view a News Release on Burning Alternatives.
Outdoor Burning Hotline and Burning Alternatives
The winter in the Central Okanagan valley often sees strong inversions, which makes for poor burning conditions as smoke becomes trapped in the valley bottom. The worst scenario occurs when the inversion lifts, but remains below the height of local hills. On days like this the Ventilation Index may be fair or good, but smoke won't be able to disperse out of the valley and will in fact be mixed downward, significantly reducing air quality.
For those using wood burning appliances (wood stoves, fire places, fire place inserts) please view this Tip Sheet for Cleaner Burning. Environment Canada also provides information on residential wood heating. As well, Health Canada has web-based information about the effects of wood smoke.
Environment Canada provides free information to help those who are eligible to conduct open burning in the Okanagan Valley. The Ventilation Index (VI) is a measure of the ability of the atmosphere to disperse smoke. The higher the number, the lower the risk of air pollution. The index ranges from 0 to 100. In the Central Okanagan a value of 65 or greater is the minimum value at which open burning is allowed.
Outdoor burning permits issued throughout the Central Okanagan require that the Air Quality and Venting Indices must be in the good range before burning starts. If you are allowed to burn and have a valid permit, call the Outdoor Burning Hotline 1-855-262-2876 to find out whether burning is allowed on a particular day. On a day that burning is allowed, it's recommended burning begin later in the morning, as venting conditions are usually better after 10:00am.
By knowing the frequency of good venting days one can better plan burning and thereby lessen the impact of smoke on the population. Periods of poor air quality in the region can often be correlated to the periods of poor ventilation (Source: Environment Canada, 1996).
The main purpose of the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) is to inform Central Okanagan residents about the present state of air quality in our region. Having this information available each day builds awareness in the public. For asthmatics and other concerned residents it may even influence their behaviour. For example, in a situation where the AQHI is high (above 50) those with respiratory problems may choose to refrain from strenuous exercise or temporarily avoid the region.
Information on the Outdoor Burning Hotline and Burning Alternatives.
The Regional Air Quality Program has links and information on Agricultural Burning Options, Anti-Idling and tips on how to burn cleaner with Wood Burning Appliances.