B.C. government releases report on Courtenay air quality and meteorology patterns

The report confirms that Courtenay’s fine particulate matter levels exceed the provincial objectives

A recent report from the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy confirms what most people in Courtenay already know: that the city’s air quality is not up to par with the rest of the province.

The report, titled “Patterns of Air Quality and Meteorology in Courtenay,” is one of the latest of several studies devoted to examining the Comox Valley’s air quality. Released in early November and written by air quality meteorologist Earle Plain, the study analyzes patterns in ambient air quality in Courtenay and how it is affected by meteorological conditions.

Measurements were collected between 2011 and the end of 2016 from an air quality monitoring station located by Courtenay Elementary School.

The report confirms that the mean annual and daily levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are higher in Courtenay than the B.C. average and exceed provincial objectives. The levels of PM2.5 are particularly high from November to February, according to Plain.

“It just confirms a lot of the things that have been coming out over the last few years and is another piece of information that local decision makers can use,” he said.

Read More: Courtenay looking into air quality control measures.

The report also found that air quality is at its worst in the evenings and at night.

An emissions inventory for the Comox Valley was completed in March this year to identify the sources of fine particulates. The inventory found that 35.5 per cent of PM2.5 came from residential wood stoves and 45.4 per cent came from open burning. Eighty per cent of PM2.5 in the opening burning category came hazard abatement practices within the forestry sector.

The study’s findings were not surprising to Breathe Clean Air Comox Valley (BCACV), a group of volunteers that advocates for air quality education and lobbies local governments regarding the issue.

Read More: Comox Valley Group bringing air quality to the forefront.

“This study adds even more information and ammunition to [the fact that] we have a serious problem and we have to take action. Let’s stop studying it and start acting,” said Jennell Ellis, a volunteer with BCACV.

“We need political leaders that will acknowledge that we do have a problem and do something about it. There are lots of possibilities.”

The Comox Valley Regional District participates in a provincial wood stove exchange program that provides rebates to people who exchange their wood-burning appliances for cleaner heating options.

Other than that program, open-air burning is either regulated or banned within municipal limits. Open burning has been banned in Courtenay since 2008, according to the city’s website.

The CVRD added extra incentives to the wood stove exchange program this year, as part of a three-year air quality education program. People who exchange their wood stoves for electric heat pumps or natural gas appliances can receive larger rebates than if they were to simply upgrade to a newer wood stove.

Read More: CVRD adds incentives to the wood stove exchange program.

But despite the program’s expansion, Ellis says the rebate program is just “a drop in the bucket” when it comes to improving the Comox Valley’s air quality.

“This year, it has been great to see that there are rebates for heat pumps for the first time and rebates for gas,” she said. “That’s a move in the right direction. But for the number of wood stoves we have in the community, that rebate program would take decades and decades to make any meaningful difference.”

Ellis also mentioned that even though forestry-related open burning accounts for more fine particulate matter than smoke from wood stoves, it mainly occurs outside municipal boundaries and is fairly regulated compared to residential heating.

Alongside PM2.5 levels, Plain’s report also measured the concentrations of ground-level ozone and nitrogen dioxide in Courtenay from 2011–2016. Plain wrote that those gases were not at concerning levels.

Just Posted

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ in Courtenay to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

2018 municipal election: Few surprises on Vancouver Island

16 incumbent mayors will continue in their positions for four more years

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Cam Levins sets new Canadian marathon record at Toronto Waterfront Marathon

The 29-year-old from Black Creek, B.C., ran it in two hours nine minutes 25 seconds

Steady stream of voters at Filberg

Voter turnout has been a steady stream Saturday at the Florence Filberg… Continue reading

Comox Valley gives back

A look at some of the organizations and individuals who help out in the community

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

B.C. Liberals’ hopes high as Nanaimo by-election approaches

Historically safe NDP seat vacated by long-time MLA Leonard Krog

Leaving B.C.’s electoral reform to a referendum is ‘ridiculous’: professor

B.C. voters getting ballots in the mail on proposal to change electoral system

Canada condemns killing of journalist in Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey

The Saudi government claimed Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a ‘fistfight’

Most Read