Airshed Roundtable Project

Wood Smoke Reduction Strategy 

On May 10, 2022 the draft Wood Smoke Reduction Strategy developed through the Airshed Roundtable process was presented to the CVRD Board. The Board received the Strategy and provided staff with feedback and recommendations. The presentation, staff report and the Board’s feedback on the draft Strategy can be viewed here.

A revised Strategy is in progress and will be presented to the Board once completed.  Once the revised Strategy is completed, Board meeting details will be updated through this website.   

At the September 20, 2022 Comox Valley Regional District Board meeting Roundtable Steering Committee representatives, including Dr. Charmaine Enns the Medical Health Officer for the Northern Region of Vancouver Island provided their perspective on the Airshed Roundtable process. 

Working Together to Address Air Quality in the Comox Valley 

Air Quality is a growing concern in the Comox Valley. There is a compelling scientific case establishing that particulate matter (PM2.5) levels in the Comox Valley seasonally exceed provincial and national standards and that biomass burning (from residential heating and open burning) is the predominant source. This type of pollutant is of particular concern as its small size enables it to enter deep into the lungs, penetrating the lung barrier and entering the bloodstream. Exposure to PM2.5 can lead to a range of short and long term human health impacts, particularly for cardiovascular health. There is no known threshold for a “safe” level of PM2.5; every bit of improvement in PM2.5 levels in the air, can decrease negative health impacts. Beyond residential heating and open burning, many different contaminants can affect air quality in the Comox Valley such as agricultural sources, mobile sources (e.g. transportation) and fugitive dust (e.g. construction operations). Managing air quality is a multi-jurisdictional challenge involving many levels of government as well as citizens. The pathways to improving air quality touch on personal choice and behaviours, social norms, socioeconomic inequities, government regulation and cultural values.

The Airshed Roundtable Process  

Actioned under the Regional Growth Strategy, the purpose of the Airshed Roundtable was to collaboratively develop and implement a Regional Airshed Protection Strategy to guide air quality actions. The Roundtable appointed by the CVRD Board is broadly represented by community members, non-profit organizations, and local industry. The CVRD convenes the Roundtable and was supported by an air quality coordinator for the establishment and coordination of the Roundtable in the development of goals and possible actions for improving air quality.  

Steering Committee

The purpose of the Steering Committee is to advance the work, (setting priorities and providing direction), identify knowledge gaps and support research and engagement to reduce those gaps, support strategic planning and act as champions for air quality management. The Steering Committee is comprised of staff from the City of Courtenay; Village of Cumberland; Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy; Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development; Island Health; and Vancouver Island University.

Airshed Roundtable

The purpose of the Roundtable is to help establish and identify shared priorities; help focus priorities to establish short, medium- and long-term actions; provide direction and lend expertise; assist with knowledge transfer; participate in strategic planning; and provide ongoing project support to the Steering Committee. A list of Roundtable representation can be found here.

 

Working Groups

Select members of the Roundtable may form working groups to explore a specific task on an as needed basis.

Goals

The CVRD expects the implementation of a Regional Airshed Protection Strategy will be a long term endeavour. The chart below summarizes some of the milestones achieved to so far:

DeliverablesOutcomes
1. Formation of the Airshed Roundtable, Steering Committee and Working Groups
  • Stakeholders and representatives identified for the Roundtable and Steering Committee.
  • Roundtable and Steering Committee meetings conducted  to develop Vision, Goals and possible Actions.
2. Communications
  • Ongoing updates on the Roundtable Meetings and outcomes to keep public informed.
  • Ongoing updates on deliverables and outcomes of the Roundtable.

3. Regional Airshed Protection Strategy
  • State of the Air Memo outlining the efforts to date, opportunities and best practices developed.
  • Draft Wood Smoke Reduction Strategy developed to address  wood smoke impacts.
4. Funding
  • Continuous sourcing of funding and grants to support the work of the Roundtable.