Chilliwack/Abbotsford – On Wednesday, March 25, Chilliwack City Council participated in a virtual regular meeting of Council to discuss urgent key issues in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the meeting, Council authorized the Fire Chief to issue an Order to cancel the remaining portion of the Spring 2020 burning season. The City’s Open Air Burning Regulation Bylaw establishes two burning seasons per year, with the spring season running from March 1 to April 30. Due to the potential for smoke from outdoor burning to exacerbate public health issues during the COVID-19 outbreak, Council has moved to shorten the spring burning season by one month, ending the spring burning season effective April 1, 2020.
Temporary policy amendments proposed by the City’s Finance Department were also approved by Council at the virtual meeting. As outlined in the staff report, “COVID-19 – Policy Amendments, Outstanding Utility Fee Interest Waiver and Service Interruptions”, Council approved several temporary policy amendments, including waiving the interest on overdue utility invoicing (water, sewer and curbside collection), effective immediately, with a reassessment on June 30, 2020.
“Council needs to find ways to react quickly to ensure we are able to best meet the changing needs of our residents during the current pandemic,” said Mayor Ken Popove. “Having a virtual meeting allowed Council to discuss timely and critical topics while adhering to social distancing requirements. As we work together from afar during this difficult time, Council will continue to look for new and innovative ways to keep the business of the City moving forward.”
Effective March 26, the City of Abbotsford will be enforcing an Open Air Burning Ban in alignment with Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and other Provincial public health partners. Open air burning restrictions for all High Smoke Sensitivity Zones across the province will be in place until Wednesday April 15th, 2020.
These measures are being put in place to help reduce excessive air pollution in the high risk airsheds across the province. Studies have shown air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory viral infections (COVID -19) by decreasing immune function leading to more severe effects.
A map of affected areas is shown in yellow in Figure 1 and a high resolution image can be accessed on the provincial Interactive Venting Index webpage.
Real-time air quality observations and information regarding the health effects of air pollution can be found at BC Environment, Air, Land and Water Website.
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy Announcement:
City of Abbotsford Burning Ban Information: https://www.abbotsford.ca/public_safety/fire_rescue_service/rural_open_air_burning.htm