Live Blog of a Webinar with Ministry of Environment on new Open Burning Smoke Control Regs

I am about to join a Webinar on the OBSCR regs.  This webinar is directed toward large forestry users. Refresh to see updates.

Here’s the description:

The B.C. Ministry of Environment is currently working on proposed revisions to the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation. The ministry would like to share details of the current proposal with stakeholders, seek feedback and answer questions. This webinar is aimed at large forestry operators who hold large tenures and burn large amounts of debris as part of their operations.

This should be pretty interesting!  Hopefully I can share what is said widely. I’ll share what I can. I figured this would be easier on the live blog than taking notes and compiling later…

1PM Start!  Updates down the page…
MOE is making the presentation.
Open Burning is the largest source of fine particulate matter pollution in BC.

“Open Burning has been identified has been identified as a significant contributor in the communities” in certain communities (Port Alberni is one of the 3 on the Island).

A little history on the OBSCR:

 

OBSCR is not meant to forbid but rather limit and prescribe where, when and how open burning can happen.

New regulation is about “tweaking the requirements” rather than adding to.

Not all types of open fires are covered under OBSCR:

Mostly “pile burns” are what are regulated by OBSCR.

“In particular the communities mentioned  exceeding the national standards… are making efforts [Port Alberni has been pushing! :))] and province should in their purview as well”.

“We are now back to a push to bring changes to our Minister [Heyman]”

 

 

Here we go to see what is being proposed:

 

Mapping is not yet completed yet. [But we can assume Port Alberni is likely to be in a HSSZ).

“It’s really where people live” in terms of HSSZ or MSSZ.

 

1.5 to 2 times more “burn days” in Low Smoke Sensitivity Zone.

[Comment from Chris:  This is concerning to me, they are basically talking about making it easier in low sensitivity zones. This might be fine, if the zones are large enough that it truly does not impact communities.  It will all come down to the maps they generate!]

2018 is actually harder on low sensitivity areas than 2016. This is good!

Next Part looks a little more like some bureaucratic detail that is less relevant to communities. More geared to remote areas/forestry.

Important slide for communities below!

Important addition below… taking into account Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

 

Directors powers:

 

Important change! OBSCR will now apply to any burn with burn greater than 10cm… bylaws from local government can further restrict if able under other legislation.

Reporting is not required currently… and is not proposed to happen yet.  This is done for emissions calculations. There is a carbon pricing mandate at the Ministry of Environment so they want to ensure they are not “counting twice”.

 

 

“many things could delay this timing”…

That’s it for the presentation.

“There is definitely a tension between air quality and wildfire goals… but we are not working cross-purposes”.

 

“A significant amount of the burning that wildfire service undertakes is outside the scope of OBSCR already”, so no effect from these changes.

Why are setbacks not ‘ an order of magnitude larger’.

“The setbacks are one of a suite of tools… in concert with venting requirements… limits”.

Final maps will be very detailed topographically and so take into account air sheds and communities within them.

I am going to end it there.  Great to see this moving forward!  I guess we just have to wait a little longer until fall hopefully to actually see new regulation. It sounds like we will have to go through one more open burning season before new rules take effect.