Terrace resident wants inner-city burns put out

A Terrace resident who has asthma wants any kind of large-scale burning within Terrace’s city limits stopped.

This is in response to brush burning on an industrial property north of Keith Ave. at Blackburn St.

Terrace resident Charles Claus, who lives on Braun Island, said he has had difficulty breathing as a result of his asthma and smoke wafting towards his residence, and that it’s time for a conversation in Terrace about whether or not large burns should be allowed to take place within city limits.

As of now, they are with special permission.

The city fire department issued a permit to Billabong Road and Bridge Maintenance Inc. for the burning near Keith Ave. starting March 6 and  expiring April 1st. The permit is a class A, which is issued for piles up to 13 feet high and 20 feet in diameter.

This is the largest size of burn that is allowed in the city.

While fire department staff said it is rare that burns this size take place within city limits, they can and do take place in some circumstances with  permission from the fire chief and if proper protocol is followed.

Protocol involves a site inspection from the fire chief to ensure it’s safe, including an appropriate water source near by, enough space surrounding the pile, and the ability to burn clearly, staff explained.

The burner must also get a reference number from the Ministry of Forests, Mines and Natural Resources.

Venting indexes, as measured by the Ministry of Environment, must also be checked daily by the burner. Venting indexes would indicate how much smoke from a burn would release into the atmosphere, said Terrace fire department staff.

For a burn to be okay, venting indexes for the area must be good for a burn to proceed.

If the rating’s not good, a burn would be shut down, said staff.

Billabong president John Ryan said Billabong has checked venting.

“We do a check and we’re very careful about those sorts of things,” he said. “That’s what the permit says we have to do.”

But Claus said that one day last week smoke could be smelled in his home.

“It was  smoky last night and the last two days,” said Claus on March 20. “It really affected my breathing last night.”

He added he shut the ventilation system to his family home off so that it wouldn’t get into the house.

Claus said he would like to see large sized burns hauled to the dump and dealt with there from now on, and that it’s time for a conversation in Terrace about how large burns are handled.

Claus did file a complaint to the city.

After receiving it, the burn site was inspected by city staff to ensure proper protocol was being followed.

“I was there this morning,” said Chief Administrative Officer Don Ramsay March 21.

“The fire department and Billabong are both doing the right thing according to the rules.”



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