Regional and municipal governments have a responsibility to foster respectful, inclusive, non-intimidating and transparent public development processes. The principles of procedural fairness, proper notice, and amenability to discussion lay the foundation for decisions that are reflective of residents’ views.
Between 2019 and 2020, a series of wood appliance bylaws were adopted across the Comox Valley restricting the installation of wood stoves in new homes and new construction. Frustrated with the decision and feeling inadequately consulted, local businesses in the wood stove industry (manufacturers, retailers, and distributors from across B.C.) decided to ask residents how they felt.
Independent research from public opinion firm Insights West found that Comox Valley residents were generally more opposed to the bylaws than supportive of them, notes the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada. In fact, findings show that among those who were aware of the bylaws and familiar with them, 64 per cent opposed them. When asked about public consultation on the matter, only 9 per cent reported being aware of consultation being done before the bylaws were enacted, and just 16 per cent reported feeling properly consulted.
On matters directly related to the policy decision, like relying exclusively on electric heating sources, only one-third of Comox Valley residents agreed that it’s feasible for everyone in the community to do so. Additionally, approximately three-quarters agreed that wood stoves are an affordable and important home heating option.
With respect to ensuring that exchange programs include wood stoves, there’s strong agreement that residents should be able to install new, cleaner and more efficient wood stoves, and approximately three-quarters agreed that wood stoves are an affordable and important home heating option.
Jeff Loder, Director of Public Affairs with the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada, says these findings “unfortunately confirm that the feelings and views of wood stove businesses in the Comox Valley are not isolated.”
More concerning, Loder says, is that “when policy processes are operating at such a distance from the perspective and views of residents, the risk of ill-informed policy recommendations increases. Policy recommendations shape the policy debate and agenda, and in this case it’s very surprising to see policy development that’s so largely unsupported by public opinion.”
There is still time to save your wood stove. Visit saveourwoodstoves.ca to learn more.