New wildfire management legislation has arrived in time for the province’s wildfire season, which typically runs from April 1 to October 31.
The Wildfire Act replaces The Prairie and Forest Fires Act, 1982, one of the oldest pieces of wildfire legislation in Canada. The new Act, with the accompanying wildfire regulations, provides a modern regulatory framework that ensures public safety while fostering sustainable economic growth.
“This new legislation was developed in extensive consultation with stakeholders,” Environment Minister Scott Moe said. “The result is a streamlined legal framework that continues to effectively protect communities, industry, property and valuable forest resources and supports safe development on Crown forest lands.”
The new legislation increases efficiency by reducing administrative requirements. For example, burning permits are no longer required to burn in or within 4.5 kilometres of the provincial forest during the wildfire season, and have been replaced by a simpler, more flexible burn notification system with an exemption for small fires.
As well, the new Act and regulations clarify responsibility for wildfires within municipalities, enhance wildfire prevention and preparedness, and provide clear direction for industrial and commercial operators within the forest.
The Wildfire Act was passed in the spring of 2014 but was not proclaimed until the accompanying regulations were developed. The new Act facilitates the development of wildfire chapters for the Saskatchewan Environmental Code, addressing topics including wildfire prevention and preparedness plans for industrial and commercial operations, and new buildings and structures where urban and forested areas meet.
Anyone planning to burn in or near the provincial forest can find information about safe burning and the new notification system at www.saskatchewan.ca/fire or by calling their local Forest Protection Area office.