As the pandemic continues in B.C., the government is following the BC Centre for Disease Control’s recommendations to reduce air pollution.
As of March 26, open burns of all land clearing governed by the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation will be restricted in certain parts of the province. In the Sea to Sky, this restriction extends from the Lower Mainland through the corridor, applying to Lions Bay, Squamish, Whistler through Pemberton.
On the government’s Venting Index Zones, Squamish is divided into three parts. The closest to the highway falls under this High Sensitivity Smoke Zone, while the exterior zones still fall under the daily fire ban, which is regularly updated to reflect conditions. See the map here.
In Squamish, this restriction does not include campfires, burning foliage, weeds, crops or stubble for domestic or agricultural purposed, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy told The Chief in an email. Under, the Wildfire Act, open fires for resource management use are also exempt.
“However, the Ministry encourages all potential burners to avoid all open burning at this time,” the email said.
The restrictions will be in effect in High Sensitivity Smoke Zones until April 15, which means no new open fires can be started and new material cannot be added to existing fires.
In a press release, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy said, “There is strong evidence that exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory viral infections by decreasing immune function.”
Poor air quality could mean an increase in COVID-19 cases, and more severe cases, while improving air quality could help protect people from the virus and its effects.
“While the focus should remain on social distancing to prevent the spread of infection and reduce the number of cases, keeping our air as clean as possible will also help to protect the population during this difficult period,” the press release said.
Find more information here.