Who is supposed to pay for education & enforcement?

Photo is of smoke from two chimneys, within municipal limits in Courtenay,, smoking well after 15 minutes of start up (not that start-up smoke should somehow get a free pass as creates the most pollution). February 2021

When people defend the use of wood stoves, they often say things like:

  • “people just need to learn to burn better”;
  • “people need to season their wood more”; and
  • “bad burners should be dealt with but leave the rest of us alone”.

So who is supposed to pay for all of this – the education, the monitoring, the development of regulations, and the enforcement (and the health care costs)? A minority of people use wood heat, but all of us are expected to pay.

No other type of home heating:

  • has emissions that can vary so greatly, depending on how it operated;
  • allows illegal fuels to be burned so easily;
  • requires education, monitoring, and enforcement (that others pay for) to try to ensure it is run optimally; and
  • pollutes the local air exponentially more than other heating sources, even when it is a brand new stove that is run perfectly.

One reason wood burning is considered to be so cheap is that there are no extra taxes or fees for the fuel or a stove’s purchase or use–or fines for misuse–even though we know it harms people and costs our health care system. One article noted that in Metro Vancouver alone, “officials estimate the health-related benefits of reducing fine particulate matter from residential indoor wood burning will save the region and residents between $282 million and $869 million each year.” [emphasis added]

When other things harm our health or our environment, we usually create notable taxes to help deter their use (e.g. alcohol, cigarette smoking, fossil fuels) and, in many cases, stiff fines for breaking the law. We slap on health warnings.

Why is wood burning getting a free ride, given what we know how much it costs others in taxes and in health impacts?

Posted in Financial Cost, Health, Problem, Solutions, Wood Stoves and tagged , , , , , , , , .


  1. If they can ban the burning of wood stoves in North Vancouver between May 15 to September 15 ,Why not the the Comox Valley very irresponsible burning in some areas .just a thought.

  2. By applying and enforcing the ‘Precautionary Principle’ backyard burning and wood stoves should be banned immediately. The health risks and the medical costs of treating them should be a priority for all municipalities and area within the CVRD.
    Strict enforcement is required. No building licenses for new construction, including renovations can include any wood burning appliance.

    • It is a good principle to apply, but unfortunately the mindset that “wood burning will always be with us” or that people have a “right” to burn is very prevalent. The industry association HPBA just presented to all three of our municipal councils and our regional government to ask them, in part, to revoke their ‘no new installation’ bylaws which were designed to simply cap the number of wood stoves in new construction in all 3 municipalities (and in existing homes without wood heating in 2 of the towns)! Industry also wants to see a return to rebates for people who move from old to new stoves! (fortunately our regional district no longer provides rebates for new stoves). It is important that people continue to write to our elected people, locally and provincially, to call for a change!

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