LETTER: No more burning in Vernon

“In the sunny Okanagan, the air is crap!”

Well, I guess we can be thankful for small mercies: The proposed controlled burn for the Foothills has been postponed.

Chronic respiratory sufferers may breathe easier, at least a little. A very little.

Before I go on, let me quote the CBC: “Air pollution is one of the world’s biggest killers, responsible for more deaths than malnutrition, malaria, AIDS, or alcohol and drug abuse.”

Sure, we are not China or India, but the North Okanagan has its own problem with air.

It’s not clean. It very definitely is hazardous to health.

When I moved to this area in 1974, the medical officer of health at the time, Dr. Smart, had a mission that he said was of grave importance—to convince the population that our air quality was a threat to our collective health. Every year, the same warning.

Of course, the alert fell on deaf ears, and that situation has obviously continued to this day.

We still get air quality alerts warning COPD sufferers, and others, to stay indoors.

In the sunny Okanagan, the air is crap.

And still we have open burning on the hillsides, and stupid undertakings such as prescribed burning, and the continued rampant use of wood burning stoves that people think do no harm because they are labelled efficient. Sure, tell people with lung disorders it’s all controlled.

To quote CBC again, “…bad air is understood to be shortening life spans in all sorts of ways.”

Look it up. It’s scary.

Vernon is in a tight little valley. The least inversion condition keeps filthy air from clearing.

We have done little about it and continue the same approach. Do very little.

Must be that political thing about not treading on influential and rich toes.

Burning is cheap, the alternative is expensive, and nobody can prove a district permitted burn harmed anyone.

Listen, we who live here, can make the effort to curb our personal contributions to air pollution and complain about the major contributors that we are made aware of regularly, and we may never see tangible results.

But we could see real tangible results right here by demanding local action on local air quality.

No more burning. The districts have to get together.

No more burning. It’s stupid, unnecessary, and extremely harmful.

John J. Clarke

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