The District of Saanich is adding its name to the growing list of Vancouver Island communities banning open fires and fireworks on Halloween night.
The decision comes as an unusually long late-summer dry spell stretches on, pushing the fire danger rating to “extreme” for much of the South Island and placing all of Vancouver Island under Level 5 drought conditions — the highest drought classification there is.
The district said the open burning ban issued in the summer months has usually been lifted by this time of year, but because of the arid conditions both it and the fireworks ban will remain in place “until further notice.”
The ban is subject to change based on conditions but it’s looking like anyone wanting to celebrate Oct. 31 with a bang will not be allowed to. Penalties can vary by municipality, for example, Victoria has set a maximum penalty of $10,000 for each separate offence.
Saanich’s announcement comes a day after Central Saanich confirmed it too would extend the ban on fires, fireworks and open burning through Halloween, resulting in the postponement of a well-known annual celebration and fireworks display at Centennial Park.
Organizers for the volunteer-run event say they’ll make it up to residents by holding the bonfire and fireworks display at a later date, either at the end of this year or early 2023.
The Coastal Fire Centre said that Category 2 and 3 open fire prohibitions remain in effect for the region but are set to expire on Oct. 28.
“With widespread precipitation in the forecast, we will evaluate the need early next week to extend these prohibitions and restrictions and provide an update at that time,” said BC Wildfire Service spokesperson Marg Drysdale.
Municipalities, however, have the ability to set their own bans, which BCWS says is for the best as local governments are the most familiar with their fire risk.