Smoke bylaw ignites council debate

Penticton has signed on to the region’s plan to prevent particulate from polluting the air.

  • Sep. 22, 2011 6:00 p.m.

Penticton has signed on to the region’s plan to prevent particulate from polluting the air.

Council endorsed the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen’s proposed smoke control service bylaw, which relates to the regulation, control and nuisance of smoke pollution in addition to set out provisions for enforcement.

In 2005, RDOS administration was directed to created a regional venting and burning restrictions, and the drafted bylaw aims to eliminate or reduce the contamination of the atmosphere through the emission of smoke, dust, gas, sparks, ash, soot, cinders, fumes or other effluvia.

“The bylaw does not prohibit burning, but encourages responsible burning to protect human health by reducing smoke particulate,” Doug French, RDOS public works manager, explained in a written background.

Enforcement may include requiring measures and precautions to be taken, and would be complaint driven.

Coun. Mike Pearce said he had troubles understanding the scope of the smoke control provisions.

“I can’t understand the implications of this. Does this mean I can’t have my wood fireplace on? That the orchardists can’t burn on their property?” Pearce said, outlining his opposition.

Mayor Dan Ashton said it is not meant to restrict resident and farmers’ abilities to go about what they’ve always done.

“It doesn’t stop the utilization and operation of accepted instruments for heating, it just eliminates waste,” he said, adding enforcement would be complaint driven much like city bylaws.

Coun. John Vassilaki asked whether the North Okanagan Regional District had been enacting similar measures, only to be told they still had not.

Coun. Garry Litke recalled how there used to be a lot of slash burning, and noted how progress was being made.

“We are far advanced from those days. The air is a little cleaner than it used to be,” he said.

“The North Okanagan is not on board with the Air Quality Coalition. There are still some people going to be burning on that side of the lake. From my perspective, it’s part of a jurisdictional problem. Air doesn’t stop at the border.”

Council endorsed the smoke control service establishment bylaw, which must be approved by all RDOS member municipalities and directors.