On Nov. 25th, the Comox Valley Echo reported on comments from CVRD Directors, Ken Grant and Larry Jangula (click on photo to read this original story). Our response (printed Dec. 2nd) is below.
I am writing to respond to two things discussed in the Echo’s Nov. 25th article on our poor air quality.
The first is about the location of the air monitor in the Comox Valley, a monitor that indicates we have some of the worst air quality in BC.
CVRD Directors Ken Grant and Mayor Larry Jangula expressed concern that the permanent air monitor set up at Courtenay Elementary was in a low-lying area, with older houses. Mr. Grant noted that if you put one in Crown Isle (where no wood stoves are allowed) or in his neighbourhood, the air quality readings would be much better.
Of course the readings would be much better in newer neighbourhoods. But for the thousands of residents who live, work or play in older neighbourhoods, the current readings represent what they (and the children at Courtenay Elementary) are breathing.
As Director Grant and Mayor Jangula know, the monitor’s location was based on an earlier mobile monitoring study. That study clearly showed that older residential areas in all three municipalities had more harmful fine particulates than other neighbourhoods. [see study’s maps]
One of these older areas was chosen by experts—not politicians—as the location for the air monitor. They were interested in identifying when poor air quality was putting thousands of people at risk and determined Courtenay Elementary would help them do just that. A second temporary monitor has been set up in Cumberland for the winter and a new mobile monitoring study will be done in early 2017.
Secondly, the article indicated CVRD is taking action on the issue and listed some activities; all but one involved more study and talk, not action.
The Medical Health Officer and the Air Quality Meteorologist for our area both agree that the data shows wood stoves and backyard burning, which are regulated by local government, contribute significantly to our poor air quality. They told CVRD at a meeting last June that there was more than enough information to act now.
Yet at the same meeting, CVRD avoided setting up an air quality advisory committee (but they did approve another study!).
Other smoky areas on Vancouver Island have set up air quality committees and these have been key to creating change. We need one here and there is no need to wait until after a future forum to act. Why not strike a committee now so its members can at least attend the forum to get up to speed?
There is overwhelming research and medical evidence that show how fine particulates (found in wood smoke) affects lung development and function in children, and increases asthma, respiratory illness, cancer rates and heart attacks (see www.breathecleanair.ca for more information).
Just like cigarette smoke, no one is immune to the toxins in wood smoke. We now know both cigarette and wood smoke make people sick and reduce their life expectancy. We’ve acted on one; it’s time to act on the other.
Breathe Clean Air Comox Valley