Open Burning

Open or Backyard Burning is burning of household yard waste, such as leaves, grass, brush and other yard trimmings. It is also burning to clear your property of trees, stumps, shrubbery, or other natural vegetation.

Taking a match to your yard waste may seem like an efficient way to dispose of your clippings, trimmings and land clearing, but burning yard waste actually puts your health – and that of your family and neighbours – at risk. Smoke from these fires contains pollution like fine particles and toxins, which harm your lungs and foul the air. These fine particles also play a major role in accelerating global warming.

With so many alternatives in this day and age to open burning, the Williams Lake Environmental Society discourages all open burning within the Williams Lake Airshed.

Here are some people and planet friendly alternatives to burning debris:

Compost and mulch

Most yard waste can be composted to return vital nutrients to the soil. If you are in need of a good garden soil, why not prepare your own.

The City of Williams Lake provides a community drop-off station for yard waste at the Central Cariboo Transfer Station (on Frizzi Road). There is no charge to receive material from residents.


Instead of burning the debris, hire a local tree-trimming service to take care of the trimming and disposal. Or, create habitat by building a brush pile.

Chipping machines

Hire a professional chipping service or rent or buy your own chipper to munch larger branches and other woody debris into a great mulch.

Applying this mulch to your garden suppresses weeds and assists with the water retention of your flower borders (remember fresh chippings may scorch tender vegetation, chippings are best stored for a couple of months outside before you apply them to your garden).

If it is too costly, ask in your neighbourhood for a ‘joined chipping event’. Add some coffee and cookies and it becomes a party!

Remember – It is illegal in British Columbia to burn any garbage or toxic materials such as plastics and plastic products, treated lumber, drywall, animal carcasses, rubber and rubber products, paints and chemicals, tar paper, household waste, biomedical waste, fuel and lubricant containers, asphalt and asphalt products, used oil and diesel products, and other noxious materials in general. You cannot see the toxins in the smoke, but they are there.

BC-Government Information:

Backyard burning in Williams Lake is regulated under municipal jurisdiction (Bylaw 1947, Fire Protection Services, Section 23a – 23d and Section 24). The provincial government cannot regulate it, but it does offer technical and educational information.

Report a Burn – venting index information is available after 7:00 am each day. Click here to find the venting index for your area. When the ventilation index for a given area has a rating of 54 or below, it is illegal to open burn anywhere in the Cariboo Regional District (CRD).

If the burn you are reporting is a land clearing or commercial burn, contact the Conservation Officer and leave a message on 1-877-952-7277.

For all other burns contact your local fire department.