The Cowichan Valley Regional District recommends residents not burn yard waste this autumn.

The CVRD says during the fall and winter, air quality in the valley deteriorates as people use wood stoves and from the smoke created by outdoor burning.

In addition to chipping woody debris, the regional district says residents can drop off yard waste free of charge at CVRD recycling operations.

The regional district says there is a greater need to reduce smoke pollution as the valley topography and unique winter weather conditions often trap smoke locally.

In the Cowichan Valley, the air contaminant of greatest concern is PM2.5, which can cause lung and heart diseases, including asthma and heart attacks.

Cowichan Medical Health Officer Dr. Shannon Waters says the area has higher rates of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and asthma compared to the rest of Vancouver Island.

According to the regional district, burning when the BC Southern Vancouver Island Venting Index is rated ‘Good’ is a condition of the CVRD’s Smoke Control Regulation Bylaw.

The bylaw states:

• burning in the CVRD’s nine electoral areas is only permitted from October 15 to November 15 and March 15 to April 15.
• Only untreated natural wood prunings and branches can be burned. Leaves and green debris is not permitted as it creates too much smoke.
• Burn piles may not be larger than two metres square and must be located at least 10 metres from all property lines.
• Burning can only occur between 7 a.m. and sunset of the same day.