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CVRD Update: March 22, 2022

The Airshed Roundtable was developed in 2020 as a collaborative approach to explore ways to improve air quality in the Comox Valley. The Roundtable is made up of over 30 local members who provide diverse representation for our community.  

In April 2022, the CVRD Board will be receiving a presentation on the Wood Smoke Reduction Strategy. The Wood Smoke Reduction Strategy is a result of the commitment, dedication and work of the Roundtable. The strategy will provide a path forward for the community to help improve air quality.

The staff report and meeting information will be posted below under Next Steps once available. 

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.

Project Description

Actioned under the Regional Growth Strategy service, the overall purpose of this project is to collaboratively develop and implement a Regional Airshed Protection Strategy to guide our actions moving forward. This will be achieved through the following framework:

Air Quality Coordinator

To support the initiative, the CVRD has hired Pinna Sustainability to act as the Air Quality Coordinator. The Coordinator role will support all aspects of the project including setting up the Steering Committee/Airshed Roundtable, communications, facilitation, strategy development, seeking funding opportunities and reporting.

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.

Watch the Roundtable's Latest Meeting - September 23, 2021

The Airshed Roundtable met in September to review and obtain input on the draft strategy elements: vision, goals, principles and actions. At this meeting members provided written and verbal input and feedback on the draft strategy. This type of engagement is key in the development of an Airshed Protection Strategy where all members are part of a collaborative process. You may notice longer pauses throughout the video. In these pauses, participants were busy using Miro, a collaborative tool to work through the vision, goals, principles and actions.

PDF of Miro Boards

Watch the Roundtable's Meeting #4, June 24, 2021

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 represents some of the main milestones we are hoping to achieve in the next three years.

DeliverablesOutcomes
1. Formation of the Airshed Roundtable, Steering Committee and Working Groups
  • Stakeholders and representatives identified for the Roundtable and Steering Committee.
  • Continuous and ongoing work to achieve goals and objectives of the Roundtable.
2. Communications
  • Keep the public informed of the activities of the Airshed Roundtable.
  • Engage the public in the development of the Airshed Protection Strategy.
3. Regional Airshed Protection Strategy
  • Develop a State of the Air Memo outlining efforts to date, opportunities and best practices.
  • Collaboratively develop a Regional Airshed Protection Strategy including an implementation and monitoring framework and process to keep these documents up to date.
4. Funding
  • Apply for relevant grants to support the work of the Roundtable.

 

 

State of the Air Memo

The State of the Air Memo provides background to the Airshed Roundtable by summarizing the current state of the air in the Comox Valley (air quality data, pollutant sources, studies and work completed to date), highlights how air pollutant sources are regulated and managed, and provides examples of what an Airshed Protection Strategy may include. It provides members of the Roundtable a common understanding of this information in preparation for collaboratively developing a Airshed Protection Strategy for Comox Valley. A condensed version for the general public will be available soon.

Timeline/Next Steps:

  • June 2020 - First meeting of the Steering Committee held
  • September 2020 - First meeting of the Airshed Roundtable
  • September 2020 - Completion of the State of the Air memo
  • Fall 2020 - Additional meetings and discussion about air quality issues to inform the development of the Airshed Protection Strategy
  • Spring 2021 - Additional meetings and engagement for draft Vision and Goals
  • Spring/Summer 2021 - Additional meetings and working group engagement for goal development
  • Fall 2021- Additional meetings and public event for the Airshed Protection Strategy
  • April 2022 - CVRD Board will receive a presentation on the Wood Smoke Reduction Strategy.

Staff Reports

Other Reports

Airshed Roundtable Meeting Presentations

Other Resources

For more information

The Airshed Roundtable Project
Comox Valley Regional District
770 Harmston Avenue, Courtenay, BC V9N 0G8
Tel: 250-334-6000
Contact form