To reduce emissions from residential indoor wood burning, the Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD) Board adopted Metro Vancouver Regional District Residential Indoor Wood Burning Emission Regulation Bylaw 1303, 2020 in March 2020. This bylaw is intended to reduce impacts to health and the environment of residential wood smoke.
Bylaw 1303, 2020 - A Bylaw to Regulate the Discharge of Air Contaminants from Residential Indoor Wood Burning Appliances
Residential indoor wood burning refers to using a wood-burning appliance, such as a fireplace or wood stove, indoors for heat or ambiance. It does not include using a wood burning appliance to cook food or outdoor wood-fired hot tubs and heaters. The bylaw specifically includes the following residential indoor wood-burning appliances: pellet stoves, masonry heaters, wood-burning furnaces, and fireplace inserts.
Residential indoor wood burning is the single largest contributor to harmful fine particle emissions in the Metro Vancouver region. Fine particles are linked to negative health effects, particularly for the elderly, children, and people with chronic heart and lung issues.
Although steps have been taken to reduce residential indoor wood burning emissions through voluntary measures, such as rebates for exchanging an old appliance for a new low-emission appliance and education campaigns, additional measures are required to reduce emissions.
In March 2020, Metro Vancouver adopted a residential indoor wood burning bylaw. The bylaw requires residents who use wood-burning appliances to comply with “Best Burning Practices”, as defined in Schedule B. The bylaw also prohibits burning during the warmer season (May 15 to September 15) unless the wood-burning appliance is the sole source of heat in a residence, is in an off-grid residence outside the Urban Containment Boundary, or if there is an emergency (such as a power outage lasting for 3 hours or more).
Requirements will be phased in to promote cleaner technologies, with more stringent requirements in more densely populated areas. These requirements are being introduced in stages between 2020 and 2025 and will help further reduce exposure to wood smoke emissions:
Anyone using a wood-burning appliance in the Metro Vancouver region is now required to use best burning practices to reduce wood smoke emissions.
These best burning practices must be applied to minimize smoke:
The prohibitions apply during the warm season from May 15 to September 15 each year. Starting on May 15, 2021, you will be prohibited from using your wood-burning appliance during the warm season, unless it is a home’s sole source of heat, or it is in an off-grid home located outside the Urban Containment Boundary, or there is an emergency (such as a power outage lasting 3 hours or more).
The Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) designates the area or “footprint” in the region within which urban development may occur. The UCB is defined in Metro Vancouver 2040: Shaping our Future (page 15), the regional growth strategy, which was accepted by all Metro Vancouver members and the Metro Vancouver Board in 2011 (Greater Vancouver Regional District Regional Growth Strategy Bylaw No. 1136, 2010, and as amended from time to time).
The new residential indoor wood burning bylaw treats wood-burning appliances within the UCB more strictly than appliances outside it, because smoke from a single wood-burning appliance is likely to impact more people within the UCB, where there is higher population density.
Village of Lions Bay residents expressed broad concerns about the implications of restrictions on wood-burning appliances in a community without access to natural gas, particularly if there are power outages. The Village of Lions Bay requested that Metro Vancouver implement an extended deadline for their community.
If you rely on wood heating as the only source of heat in your home, you must submit a declaration of compliance with best burning practices by September 15, 2022. Warm season restrictions (May 15 – September 15) do not apply for homes with no other source of heat.
If wood burning is the sole source of heat and you are inside the Urban Containment Boundary (UCB), you will need to register your appliance with Metro Vancouver in order to be able to continue using it after September 2025. Appliances outside the UCB do not need to be registered. Registration begins on September 15, 2022
In the following instances, you may use any wood-burning appliance:
Subscribe to the Residential Wood Smoke mailing list for updates on the bylaw, registration of wood-burning appliances, and other activities.
Metro Vancouver acknowledges that the region’s residents live, work, and learn on the shared territories of many Indigenous peoples, including 10 local First Nations: Katzie, Kwantlen, Kwikwetlem, Matsqui, Musqueam, Qayqayt, Semiahmoo, Squamish, Tsawwassen, and Tsleil-Waututh.
Metro Vancouver respects the diverse and distinct histories, languages, and cultures of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, which collectively enrich our lives and the region.