A group of Parksville area residents are fuming over land clearing that’s left them smoked out of their homes and they’re demanding changes to the way developers can clear land.
For several weeks, land clearing of a nearby 20 acre parcel has been sending plumes of smoke into the air, as piles of tree roots and slash are burned. It’s a process that’s been used for years, but that may be about to change.
Smoke rising from an open burn off Kaye Road near Parksville has left neighbours fuming.
“We’ve been suffering now for weeks,” says resident Doreen Hampton.
“We just breathe it, taste it and smell it all day long,” says her neighbour Lindy England.
For two weeks the owner of the land in high priced River’s Edge near Parksville has been clearing it of its recently logged forest to sell it for development and neighbours say they’re the ones paying the price.
“My eyes are burning even with the small bit of smoke there,” says Hampton. “Your throat, your eyes. It’s like being a prisoner in your own home.”
And even in their homes they say, it smells like smoke. Leading Doreen Hampton to consider seeking shelter in a hotel until this is through.
“Just to leave, to get away from the constant smell,” she says.
It’s one burn and then another one and another one and it just carries on. It’s been going on for weeks now and it will continue because they still have massive piles to remove here,” says England.
The owner of the property is in his rights to do this. Since there is nothing banning open burning like this. Neighbours think that is wrong and they’re taking their argument to the Regional District of Nanaimo, asking officials to pass a new bylaw.
“They’re very clear what a health hazard this is yet they’re allowing it to happen. It doesn’t make any sense,” says England.
The RDN’s Tom Armet says its a sign of the times, as more development moves in to rural areas.
“I think times are changing and I think people are being affected more and more as urban development increases,” says Armet.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District has already passed a bylaw drastically restricting open burning, and forcing more wood to be recycled rather than burned.
Residents here want the Regional District of Nanaimo to do the same. Knowing that while it won’t help them through this burn, it would clear the air down the road considering the fast pace of development now sweeping once rural lands.