At Monday’s meeting, Courtenay council unanimously approved a resolution from David Frisch to contact the BC Health Authority to investigate the seriousness of local air quality concerns, and advise on possible actions the City might take.
Frisch feels it would be wise to find out about illnesses associated with levels of particulate matter, which are especially high in evenings when wood stoves are burning.
Mayor Larry Jangula would like to determine the source of smoke to see if it is a Courtenay issue.
A group called Breathe Clean Air Comox Valley formed last year when reports indicated the Valley contains some of the poorest air quality in B.C. Reports by the BC Lung Association show the Courtenay station is among the worst of 40-plus stations in the province in terms of PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter) levels.
The regional district runs a wood stove exchange program that offers rebates of $250 to homeowners who switch old wood-burning appliances to newer ones. Frisch is not looking to ban wood stoves, but is trying to determine the cause of the poor air quality.
•The Rotary walkway and stairs along the Puntledge River were closed to the public Feb. 4 due to safety concerns.
The concrete stairs between Robert Lang Drive and the start of the Ruth Masters Greenway were constructed about 20 years ago as part of a Rotary Club project. Their proximity to the eroding river bank has become an issue. Last September, high water flows and rainfall caused a major slope failure. Heavy rainfall brought down several large conifers that were helping to stabilize the slope.
A temporary bypass stairway was constructed in November. A chain link fence has since been erected.
“This is a very popular trail that offers some of the best features of the city,” said Coun. Doug Hillian, who has seen bears and anglers unaware of each other’s presence in the area while walking the trail. “That’s a unique circumstance within a municipality.”
Frisch concurs that the trail is an “important amenity to the community.”
At this point, the preferred option is to decommission the existing walkway and relocate the stairs to a safer location. Options and costs will be presented to council as part of the 2016 Parks Capital budget.
•The March 14 meeting will include an update on the status of the review of studies identifying the need for a third river crossing to support long-term traffic flow. Staff has engaged a consultant to review past transportation studies related to the need and optional locations for a third crossing of the Courtenay River, with a particular focus on the 11th Street corridor.