The Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with provincial public health partners, has imposed open burning restrictions for “high smoke sensitivity zones” in the province as a strategy to help people with COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses.
The Sunshine Coast is included in the designated area that’s subject to the ban.
“As cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in B.C. continue to increase, the BC Centre for Disease Control recommends implementing measures that help to reduce excess air pollution in populated airsheds across the province,” a notice from the ministry said. “There is strong evidence that exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory viral infections by decreasing immune function.”
The notice goes on to say, “Deterioration in air quality may lead to more COVID-19 infections overall… may lead to more cases of severe COVID-19 infections… and improvements to air quality may help to protect the whole population from COVID-19 and its potentially severe effects.”
The ban will be in place until April 15.
The District of Sechelt and Sunshine Coast Regional District had received complaints about logging slash burns on Private Managed Forest land in the Sandy Hook neighbourhood just prior to the ban being imposed.
An Emergency Operations Centre update said the forest owner had agreed to allow the current fires to burn out and not do any further slash burning.
Sechelt Mayor Darnelda Siegers said there have also been community complaints about smaller backyard burns, and she asked people to “please consider others who are sensitive to airborne irritants.”