Concerns around open burns related to land clearing for development were raised in an email shared with City of Salmon Arm council. (File Photo)

Concerns around open burns related to land clearing for development were raised in an email shared with City of Salmon Arm council. (File Photo)

Open burning in Salmon Arm ignites concern around land clearing by developers

Residents share concerns with city, suggest alternative for cleared burning

The return of open burning has two Salmon Arm residents concerned for people’s health and suggesting an alternative for wood waste.

In a March 10 email received by city council (correspondence, item 16), a Gleneden couple share a photo from that morning of an open burn along the base of Mount Ida and note how the resulting smoke was not venting upwards, but horizontally towards Silver Creek – and Vernon, where they said there was already an air quality advisory.

Other images included with the email show smoke hovering over residences in Gleneden.

“Our neighbourhood in Gleneden was also covered in thick smoke which entered homes in the area, including ours…,” reads the email. “We informed the city about it, along with three other neighbours, but we were told that nothing can be done because it’s legal. While the city worker was polite to talk to, it’s hard to accept that the air pollution in our neighborhood will continue for the next 96 hours.”

Permits are required within the City of Salmon Arm for open burns and come with restrictions/requirements, one of them being all burns must meet Ministry of Environment Index Requirements.

In the email, the city is asked to consider restricting open burn permits to developers for land clearing, “and instead create a local facility to transform the land clearing matter into soil, much like what’s being done in Abbotsford through Net Zero Waste.” The couple says this would create local jobs, reduce pollution and “enhance our ability to grow food locally.”

“We support the strategic use of open burning for farming (we’re novice farmers ourselves) and for fire prevention. But developers appear to be using land clearing for open burning as a way to minimize expenses,” reads the email. “They will easily recoup those expenses because of the record-high home prices.”

The couple asks if such burns are fair to the public, and refer to health information by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention regarding the negative impacts wildfire smoke on human health.

”Wildfire smoke can irritate your lungs, cause inflammation, affect your immune system and make you more prone to lung infections…” says the CDC.

“We can do more in Salmon Arm to reduce the effects of climate change and to protect the health of our people,” write the couple.

Council agreed to refer the letter to the Salmon Arm Fire Department.

Read more: Column: Put smoky burn piles on the back burner

Read more: Shuswap landfills an alternative to open burning
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