Comox Valley regional district to give incentives to get rid of wood stoves

Extra incentives will be available to wood stove users who get rid of their heat source in favour of non-wood burning appliances.

The Comox Valley Regional District’s committee of the whole approved a recommendation last week that top-up incentives would be provided for exchanging wood stoves for a cleaner heating source, like natural gas or a heat pump.

This is all part of the regional district’s recently approved three-year air quality education program, funded by an Island Health Community Wellness grant.

The wood stove incentive program part of the program wasn’t approved right away but sent to a strategic priority meeting for further discussion.

Now the focus is on people who want to get rid of their wood stoves. This will be combined with a targeted education program on wood smoke-affected neighbourhoods as identified by recent mobile monitoring.

If you exchange your wood stove for a natural gas or pellet stove, you’re eligible for a $250 top-up incentive, for a total rebate of $500. Fifteen of the top-ups will be available.

If you exchange your wood stove for an electric heat pump, the incentive top-up is $750 for a total rebate of $1,000. Seven of these will be available.

Information regarding this top-up incentive program will be directly distributed to homes in the wood smoke “hot spots”.

Michael Zbarsky, manager of transit and sustainability, told regional district directors that the outreach education program will also include outreach to wood sellers.

“We’re really just hammering on all the various sources out there about burning smart,” he said.

Courtenay director Larry Jangula noted there are many people who can’t afford “to go into these new upgraded systems” because wood is cheaper to heat a home.

Area C director Edwin Grieve noted that 39 per cent of Comox Valley homeowners use wood stoves.

“What we heard is it’s not so much the stove you burn the wood in, it’s the wood you burn in the stove,” he said.

He suggested that the district ask for another round of mobile monitoring this winter.

“It’s a behaviour issue rather than a technical issue. When you look at the real story 76 per cent (of the smoke) is all provincial forest burning anyway,” he said.

Air quality has become an issue in the Valley because of temperature inversions and particulate matter emissions associated with wood heating and open burning activity in the region.