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LETTER – It’s time for the government to get tough on wood-burning

Dear editor,

As we are now in the height of the “poison your neighbour with wood smoke” season, I believe there are some things our governments should consider. I live in what must be one of the worst areas in the Valley for wood smoke: Back Road and 10 St. E.

Wood-burning is most efficient at a moisture content of 10 to 20 per cent, which requires wood to be split and seasoned for a year, protected from elements. Do people realize that they are releasing the stored carbon, fine particulates, VOCs and PAHs (known carcinogens) into the atmosphere? Do they know all this and don’t care? I would argue yes, which requires forceful government regulation and enforcement. Burning wood for heat is only one step up from burning coal from a pollution perspective.

This practice can no longer be acceptable in the 21st century.

I wonder how many people are taking advantage of the CVRD $500 rebate for replacement of old wood-burning appliances considering it probably costs around $6,000. A bylaw to help accelerate this could be that on the sale of a house, any wood-burning appliance WETT certificate be revoked. Any low-efficiency appliance would have to be replaced/decommissioned before a new certificate could be issued.

The rebate could also be paid out if the appliance is permanently decommissioned preventing any further use. Since burning wood produces carbon and there is a carbon tax on GHGs emissions, then local governments should implement a carbon tax on properties that have wood-burning appliances. A final approach would be to ban all wood-burning appliances and slash pile burning in the Valley. This ultimate solution will ensure clean air and contribution to the reduction of GHGs.

Further, governments should fund permanent bylaw officer positions to police poor wood combustion, issue tickets and stop orders, as well as ensuring compliance with all other bylaws in the Valley.

It is time for proactive action on this issue by our local governments instead of the apparent current approach of hoping the situation will resolve itself. Obvious to anyone with a nose wanting to breathe clean air, the current approach isn’t working.

Maurice Levert,


Letter to the Editor