Courtenay looking into air quality control measures

Courtenay looking into air quality control measures

Cumberland wants its neighbouring municipalities and the regional district to work together on improving air quality.

Village mayor Leslie Baird sent a letter to Courtenay council, as well as Comox council and the Comox Valley Regional District board, apprising them of Cumberland’s recent efforts to cut down on wood smoke.

The village has plans to amend its Fire Protection Services and Regulation Bylaw

* to prohibit all land-clearing burns that are not forestry-related;

* undertake an air quality education and/or incentive campaign;

* enact a bylaw regulating solid fuel-burning appliances to ensure that non-certified wood-burning appliances and pellet stoves be removed upon sale or transfer of any real property;

* that wood-burning appliances and pellet stoves not be used during Air Quality advisories unless the appliance is the only heating appliance;

* and that all new construction include a second form of space hearing.

The village has already prohibited all yard waste fires.

Courtenay Counc. David Frisch said he wanted to “commend the village for stepping up and taking action”.

“Now we’re waiting for the regional district to help us along,” he said.

CAO Dave Allen said it was important that the city not step “outside of our power” when planning any bylaws to regulate smoke.

He said a motion calling on staff to prepare a report back to council “would be helpful” along with checking in with other municipalities and the regional district “to have a clearer picture … to see where everything’s going.”

Allen said a coordinated approach would be ideal because “the airshed doesn’t stick around municipal boundaries.”

Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula said that while it would be useful to look at some of the older wood-burning appliances, and people using the wrong wood in them, “I don’t think it’s a huge amount of people causing the concern.”

“Most of the smoke is from clearcuts and work in the rural areas,” he said. “There doesn’t seem to be any appetite to pursue that.”

Counc. Doug Hillian, though, said he had a different interpretation of results presented at the recent air quality forum for elected officials.

“The primary issue we had with air quality was, in fact, related to woodstove smoke based on the measurements done. You can’t underestimate the challenge that wood stoves present,” he said, adding that it’s a “responsible action” on the city’s part to get involved in efforts to reduce smoke.

Council then passed a motion that city staff work with the Comox Valley Regional District to explore bylaws that will regulate wood burning in the community to address concerns regarding air quality.