Fire Chief advocating for local burn site

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, April 3 2019

Fire Chief Rick Jackson is willing to issue a permit for at least one site on Gabriola which could be used as a burn site for getting rid of debris.

What he needs to find out is if the Gabriola Fire Prevention Improvement District bylaws supersede the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) bylaws.

He outlined this as part of his Fire Chief’s report given to the Gabriola Fire Protection Improvement District Board on March 6.

Jackson said there had been a person doing disposal burns (primarily wood and other debris from sites around the island).

The site was on a private property off South Road, at the top of Brickyard Hill.

Jackson said he had talked to BC Government representatives in Victoria who said that he, as the fire chief, has the authority to issue the burn permits.

In question is, that according to the RDN bylaws, debris is not to be burned except on the site it originates on. 

What Jackson would like to see is a return to there being a property where debris could be gathered and burned together.

Jackson said “that’s the part that’s not technically legal. But it’s what is done everywhere else.”

Jackson has said previously that his concern is that if there is nowhere on Gabriola for debris to be burned - especially cleared out branches and undergrowth - people will just accumulate it on their own properties where it adds to the fire danger.

Currently, the RDN does not provide any transportation of yard waste off Gabriola as part of the waste collection system.

Private companies will truck debris off island but, as Jackson has pointed out, the property owner then pays a heavy cost to put a truck on the ferry. What he’d prefer, is to have a site on Gabriola where the burning can happen.

“We’re talking one to three burns per year.”