Comox Valley residents may find it impossible to use wood-burning appliances if the regional district passes an anticipated initiative to phase out the appliances, local businesses say.
Industry representatives and local businesses say that despite requests for collaboration to look for real solutions to improve air quality in the Valley, it’s expected the CVRD will soon recommend the complete phase-out of all wood stoves.
“This is a discussion that, to date, has been had by a few, and it’s past time the voices of the many be heard,” said Richard Oliver, Owner and Operator of Oliver’s Power Vacuum & Chimney Sweep.
Tomi Wittwer, from Comox Fireplace & Patio, agrees. “There’s still time to make this right and develop good regulation to address air quality, ensuring the right of people to burn wood. All local industry has come together, and we are asking for a real seat at the table,” Wittwer says.
If nothing else, local industry members are disappointed they aren’t being called to help in their community.
“We all live and work in this area with our families, and we breathe the same air, we can help,” says Jamie Payne, with Norse Heating.
According to Payne, this is a story of how the government has forgotten about business.
“My wife and I took out a loan in 2019 and renovated our new location after being a home-based business for almost five years,” says Payne. “The storefront opened in late October, and the COVID-19 crisis took place a few months later. It was during this time the City of Courtenay voted to ban the installation of wood stoves in new construction and renovations. There was no advance notice.”
The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada (HPBAC) says it’s disappointed that local businesses, BC manufacturers, retailers, and distributors haven’t been given a voice.
“Their insight and experience should be considered assets; we are talking about people’s livelihoods, and good regulation must always consider that,” says Jeff Loder, Director of Public Affairs for HPBAC. “These are real people who live in the community with their families.”