On March 5th, the Comox Council voted to disallow any new installations of wood burning appliances in new homes and existing construction, including outbuildings. This effectively caps the number of wood stoves in the town.
The only exception for new installations is homes that currently have a wood burning appliance. They will be allowed to upgrade to new, more emission efficient, appliances.
This is a first step
Two weeks before this decision, Breathe Clean Air made a presentation to Comox Council. Our request was that, as a quick and easy first step towards reducing wood smoke, the town should prevent new installations to stop the increase in numbers of stoves. The speed of their follow through indicates they are committed to action on this issue.
Although there are not many stoves installed in the town each year, residents now don’t have to worry that one might pop up next door, which would immediately change their local air quality.
Next step is a more comprehensive bylaw
Breathe Clean Air has also asked Comox to begin work on a more comprehensive wood stove bylaw that will regulate how they are used, when they are used, and what kind of appliance may or may not be used.
We also want to see strong enforcement provisions that will help neighbours and other members of the public protect themselves from smoke.
And education on health impacts
And we strongly urged Comox to do as much as possible to help raise awareness of the health impacts of wood smoke as that will increase support for further changes and motivate individual wood stove users to switch, for the health of their family and their neighbours.
The comments appearing on different facebook pages about Comox’s decision make it clear that there is a woeful lack of awareness about the health impacts of wood smoke and the extent of the problem in our valley. Education is important to laying the groundwork for further changes.
At a CVRD meeting, one Comox Councilor noted that they were being beat up in social media about their decision (we also see comments of support online).
If you want to see further action, it is really important that council also hears words of support. Please consider sending a quick email to email@example.com.
If you live in other communities in the valley, cc those councils or well, or write to them separately to encourage more action. All email addresses are in this Word document. Don’t forget to cc Breathe Clean Air!
Cumberland residents! Note that Jennell Ellis will be making a presentation to Cumberland Council on March 25th.
Like the work we’re doing and want to see continuing action on air quality in the Comox Valley? Consider supporting our work!