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Township issues restricted autumn burning permits

Autumn is around the corner and soon the fall air will be filled with the familiar smell of smoke and burning leaves. And it had better be coming from properties with proper burning permits.

The Township of Langley Fire Department is issuing permits for open air burning from Sept. 15 to Oct. 31. However, burning is only allowed if certain land size and geographic requirements are met — and if the weather cooperates.

“We are trying to be proactive in our approach,” said Assistant Fire Chief Pat Walker, who realizes landowners depend on burning as a relatively easy, inexpensive way to rid their yards of debris, but knows the resulting smoke can be irritating to neighbours.

“There is a need for burning, but we also need to respect people who have health conditions and breathing issues,” he said. “Certain atmospheric conditions are required to burn, to prevent damage to the environment and to ensure the comfort of others.”

Residents who want to purchase an incidental outdoor burning permit for yard and garden clean-up must have property that is half an acre or larger, and a fire department site inspection is required. Burning is not allowed and permits are not issued for the urban areas of Aldergrove, Brookswood, Fort Langley, Murrayville, Walnut Grove, and Willoughby. Household and building materials, furniture, garbage, and tires cannot be burned, only natural vegetation such as leaves, branches, and plants.

Incidental outdoor burning permits can be purchased for $20 from the Township’s Civic Facility, Fire Hall 6 in Murrayville, the Operations Centre, or at the Aldergrove, W.C. Blair, Walnut Grove, or Willoughby Community Centres.

Those who have property that is 4.2 acres or larger and want to do land clearing must meet Metro Vancouver and Waste Management requirements, and ensure the weather is favourable, according to the air quality index. Land clearing permits, which can be revoked if atmospheric conditions change, are $100 and can only be issued at Fire Hall 6 in Murrayville. Only indigenous material such as brush, slash, and grass can be burned. Construction waste, plastic, and dimensional lumber cannot be burned, and a 15-day break must occur between each 72-hour burning period.

Special burning permits can also be issued for agricultural purposes — such the eradication of weeds, pests, and damaged or diseased crops — and for religious or ceremonial events.

All other backyard burning, including fires for cooking and the burning of garbage, is not allowed.

Walker said Township firefighters hope to educate the public about burning conditions, the type of material that can be burned, and the need for proper permits, but will ticket and fine those in violation.

For more information, call the Township of Langley Fire Department at 604-532-7500 or visit tol.ca/burning.

For more information, contact Assistant Fire Chief Pat Walker at 604-532-7514 or pwalker@tol.ca.

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