With colder weather now upon us, residents with wood burning fireplaces are reminded to use best burning practices to reduce the impacts of residential wood smoke on people’s health and the environment.
Residential wood smoke is the most significant source of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions in the region, contributing more than a quarter of the total annual PM2.5 emissions. It is also the second top source of toxic air pollutants. These tiny particles can damage health when they penetrate deep into the lungs and bloodstream. Exposure to wood smoke is a particular concern in densely populated urban areas, where a smoking chimney is close to multiple neighbours.
Tips for minimizing smoke:
- Only burn clean, seasoned wood, seasoned wood products, manufactured fire logs, or wood pellets
- When starting a fire, only use non-glossy, uncoated, uncoloured paper
- Do not burn garbage, plastics, rubber, treated wood, or painted wood
- Burn small, hot fires
- Prevent smouldering fires
- If your appliance is designed for extended burns to provide an overnight heat source, load the fuel to prevent the fire from smouldering:
- Rake the coals towards the air inlet and place large pieces of wood compactly in the firebox behind the coals so the heat and flame do not penetrate the new load
- Open the air inlets fully for 15 to 30 minutes until the outer pieces of wood are charred
- Once a thick layer of charcoal has formed on the outer pieces, reduce the air supply in stages to the desired level
- Inspect and maintain the appliance in accordance with the recommendations of a qualified person
Roll out of the residential wood burning bylaw
In March 2020, Metro Vancouver adopted a new bylaw (Bylaw 1303, 2020) to regulate emissions from residential indoor wood burning. The new bylaw introduces new requirements in phases.
|PHASE 1||PHASE 2||PHASE 3|
Restrictions on indoor wood burning during the warm season, unless it is the sole source of heat
Declaration of use of best burning practices in all areas, registration of clean wood burning appliances within Urban Containment Boundary
Restrictions on use of non-registered devices within Urban Containment Boundary (except for low income households)
The new bylaw does not prohibit residential indoor wood burning durin an emergency, such as a power outage.
Metro Vancouver offers a Wood Stove Exchange Program, which provides rebates to residents for replacement of uncertified wood-burning appliances with cleaner burning alternatives.
Learn more about the new bylaw requirements.