Air quality concerns rise again

The contentious issue of air quality is smouldering in the North Okanagan

The contentious issue of air quality is smouldering in the North Okanagan.

Five years after a formal program died, there are some calls for the Regional District of North Okanagan to reconsider an air quality committee.

“We’ve got a background level at the provincial standard and with new monitoring, it will be in the red zone,” said Doug Dirk, Coldstream director, Wednesday.

“There needs to be some attention at the board level.”

However, Dirk admits considerable debate led to the previous air pollution controls being shelved.

“People were resistant to dealing with (wood) stoves and burning, especially in the rural areas. The whole thing fell apart.”

And some of that resistance remains, with Lumby director Kevin Acton voting against investigating the possibility of an air quality service.

Acton insists action has already been taken and more bureaucracy is not needed.

“Lumby has an anti-idling bylaw and we’re working on a transportation plan and putting in electric car plug-ins.”

Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director, voted to  consider a function, but has some doubts as to what the district can do to reduce pollution.

“We have no control over wildfires. We have no control over vehicle emissions,” he said.

“If we want people to change out wood stoves, what’s the incentive?”

If RDNO decides to proceed with an air quality function, the earliest it could proceed is 2017.

On Wednesday, directors heard from the Ministry of Environment and open burning and wood stoves were identified as the leading sources of pollution.

It was pointed out that the narrower valley in the North Okanagan and cooler temperatures impact venting and air quality.

The ministry is currently looking to establish air quality monitoring as part of the new pellet plant in Lavington.

“We’re trying to obtain a suitable site,” said Tarek Ayache, an air quality meteorologist.

 

The long-term goal is to also have mobile monitors throughout the region.