February 27, 2013 - 12:37 PM
By Jennifer Stahn
Kamloops City Council approved the Airshed Management Plan presented to them at a council meeting Tuesday, with many members of council agreeing with Mayor Peter Milobar that the plan has been “a long time coming.”
The management plan will see an initial focus on incentive programs to get owners of wood-burning stoves to trade them in. $20,000 is earmarked for a wood stove exchange program similar to those seen in other cities – such as Merritt – with the possibility of matching the incentive offered by the province, currently $250.
Coun. Nancy Bepple believes the “$20,000 makes sense to get something accomplished” but was questioning whether surrounding communities would also be taking part in an airshed management plan. Coun. Ken Christian was more concerned with just getting “on with approving it, we've had it in front of us long enough...the faster we approve, the faster we can get on it.”
Coun. Tina Lange sat on the committee and said that while “so much of what affects our airshed we can't as a city control – such as forest fires, living in a dust bowl – there is much we can do.” She quickly pointed to driving and what the city is doing to encourage it's own employees to reduce their vehicle use. Half-jokingly she asked, “have we thought about putting our parking in Valleyview?”
Overall Kamloops air quality is considered “really good,” said Coun. Marg Spina,” but we can still strive for better air.” Coun. Arjun Singh commented on loving the smell of burning wood, “it's awesome,” but said he understands how hard it could be on someone with compromised breathing. Singh was also concerned over people's perception of air quality reporting and how to better build a trust during the implementation stage of the plan.
City sustainability and environmental services manager Jen Fretz said the focus now is on immediate actions required of the plan, and then the city can look at how to implement high, medium and low priority actions. Plans for an electronic complaint system are also being looked at, so the city can better track where and when complaints are taking place to keep an eye on trends and better pinpoint odours.
Currently there are 95 permitted stoves in Kamloops, with about 90 of them permitted prior to emissions standards certification. Fretz noted there was no way to know for sure how many wood stoves in total were out there, but she hopes many will be replaced under the incentive plan.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013