SHUBENACADIE - The province is helping reduce the risk of wildfires by changing the way domestic brush burning is permitted.
The province announced changes on Wednesday to the way burning will be permitted. People no longer need a permit to burn domestic brush. The permit has been replaced with an online burning restrictions map to inform Nova Scotians when it is OK to burn a pile of brush. Restricted brush burning will start earlier, on March 15 instead of April 1.
"We are moving to a new, more modern way of burning brush safely to reduce the risk of wildfires," said Zach Churchill, Minister of Natural Resources, in a press release. "Nova Scotians will also save money with this new online burning restrictions map that replaces paper permits."
The map will show green, red, or yellow in each county to let Nova Scotians know if it is safe to burn, unsafe to burn, or safe with restrictions. The map is online at www.novascotia.ca/burnsafe. People can get the same information in a recorded message by calling 1-855-564-2876, toll-free. The map and recorded phone message will be updated daily.
These changes affect brush burning on domestic properties, such as rural residential lots, woodlots, fishing camps and cottage lots. Where municipal burning bylaws exist, such as in Halifax Regional Municipality, they may require additional burning restrictions.
The online map and toll-free line will ensure everyone knows the risks of wildfire in all areas of the province, each day. Previously, Nova Scotians needed to travel to a government office to purchase paper permits and pay a fee. The online approach will also save taxpayers' dollars on administration costs and increase fire safety and awareness.
The map has been successful in New Brunswick.
"This online map and phone number will eliminate the need to drive to a DNR office to purchase a burning permit and remove the guess work of when it is safe or not safe to burn brush," said Deputy Chief Jim Driscoll, manager of training and prevention, Cape Breton Regional Municipality Fire Services. "People should still follow safe burning practices and do their brush burning in winter, if possible."
People should save brush in a covered pile and burn brush between Oct. 15 to March 15, when burning restrictions are not in effect. Winter burning allows for a cleaner, safer burn with less smoke and risk of wildfire. Burning brush when wildfire risks are high can lead to property damage, loss of life and hefty costs to the person responsible for the fire. It is illegal and could result in charges and fines.
Industrial brush burning still requires a permit from a Department of Natural Resources office.