Download the Air Action Plan [PDF 1.08MB]

Clean Communities

Did You Know?

Keeping your tires at optimum pressure can improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency by as much as 10 per cent.

Working Together for Greener Cities

B.C. communities are already recognized as leaders in innovative sustainability practices. The provincial government is building on that record with the Green Cities Project, which provides communities with additional resources to improve air quality, reduce energy consumption, and encourage people to get out and enjoy the outdoors.

The project includes the Local Motion Fund, which provides $10 million a year for bike paths, walkways, greenways and efforts to make the outdoors more accessible for people with disabilities. It also includes incentives for local governments to make their vehicle fleets cleaner and greener.

Action #24: Get rid of smoky old wood stoves. The B.C. government is helping people replace their old wood stoves with cleaner alternatives. Wood smoke is a leading contributor to air pollution in British Columbia. In addition to particulate matter, it contains a long list of toxins, from cancer-causing dioxins and furans to formaldehyde. Wood smoke also contains fine particulate matter – tiny specks that can lodge in your lungs and interfere with breathing. These specks are so tiny that, even with doors and windows closed, you can’t keep them out.

Did You Know?

Smaller engines aren’t necessarily cleaner. In fact, they’re some of the worst polluters. For example, an older gas-powered lawnmower running for an hour can produce as many harmful emissions as a car driven 550 km.

Certified wood and pellet-burning stoves and propane, oil, gas and electric alternatives, are all better for our environment and for our health. So the government is investing in a new education and incentive program to help more people make the switch.

Based on a successful pilot project in the Skeena Region, the Provincial Woodstove Exchange Program is designed to facilitate – as its initial goal – the exchange of at least 50,000 old wood stoves for newer, more fuel-efficient models or other clean heat sources. This represents about half of the old woodstoves in the province. That would reduce emissions of fine particulate matter by more than 3,000 tonnes per year – equivalent to shutting down 12 beehive burners. Our long term goal would be to eliminate the use all non-certified woodstoves by 2020.

For a community like Golden, where woodstove emissions represent approximately 40 per cent of the community’s PM2.5 emissions, eliminating all 300 non-certified woodstoves would reduce PM2.5 by 18 tonnes and improve annual air quality significantly.

Get rid of smoky old wood stoves

Action #25: Tighten burning regulations. In addition to encouraging people to replace their old, inefficient wood stoves, the government will strengthen the regulation that limits allowable emissions. This will be done in 2009, expanding the regulation’s scope to apply to a wider range of wood burning devices. The current regulation requires all newer devices to meet the latest standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the Canadian equivalent.

Did You Know?

Using dry, seasoned wood can reduce your wood consumption – and costs – by up to 25 per cent. Green or damp wood burns less efficiently, and creates a lot more pollution.

Action #26: Refine the ways we manage wildlands fires. British Columbia is playing a lead role in developing the Canadian Wildland Fire Strategy, and is now moving forward to develop a strategy specifically for B.C. Fire occurs normally in nature. In fact, it’s often key in maintaining the health of entire ecosystems. While we must control forest fires to protect the public, aggressive fire suppression may result in dangerous build-up of forest fuels and tree encroachment on grasslands, increasing the risk of future fires. Planned burns can help minimize these effects -- this type of controlled fires are routinely used in land management to help forest growth, create better habitat for wildlife and domestic animals, and reduce the intensity of naturally occurring wildfires. One of the key objectives of a B.C.-specific wildland fire strategy will be to balance fire suppression with the use of natural and planned burns to ensure a healthy ecosystem while minimizing hazards to human health and the environment. In addition to supporting this Air Action Plan, the strategy will complement initiatives such as the Bioenergy Strategy, which is designed to increase the proportion of wood waste turned into energy.

Action #27: Make smoke-management a priority. A province-wide smoke management plan will reduce the impact of pile burning, which is also a key part of wildland fire management. Smoke management comprises strategies to improve burning practices, as well as improvements to daily and seasonal fire, weather and smoke forecasting and tracking. It will complement the actions in the wildland fire management strategy.

Action #28: Put dollars into research on air quality and health. One of the basic principles of environmental management is making decisions based on the best available science. To that end, B.C. has a history of supporting research to advance the science of air quality through partnerships with academic institutions, other levels of government and industry associations. For example, in the past the government has provided $30,000 to support a pilot project designed to reduce emissions from cruise ships, and $75,000 to support synthetic diesel testing. Continuing to offer support for research will further expand B.C.’s scientific capacity, help create new partnerships and develop a forum where scientific questions can be answered.