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‘Wood smoke can be more harmful to human health than smog,’: RDCK

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
November 7th, 2017

City council has decided to clear the air.

On Monday night during its regular council meeting the city decided to offer up the woodstove exchange program for another year, helping to reduce the amount of particulate from wood smoke in the West Kootenay air.

City council has elected to continue to commit funds to the 2017/18 Woodstove Exchange Program in the amount of $100 per stove exchanged to a maximum of 20 stoves.

The Woodstove Exchange is a rebate program where provincial funding is granted to the

Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) for disbursement as rebates for new woodstoves.

The regional district board of directors has asked that council pass a resolution confirming the city’s continued support and commitment to participate in 2017/18 by contributing $100 rebates per applicant residing in Nelson and will be applying to the province for funding this fall.

Air quality has been recognized as a persistent health risk in the regional district, with the region’s topography and rural nature combine to create a situation where many outdated wood stoves are in use and wood smoke remains trapped within the steep valleys.

Air quality data indicates that the poorest conditions often exist during the winter months, when woodstove use is at its peak.

“Wood smoke can be more harmful to human health than smog,” noted a regional district brochure on the exchange program.

Since 2007 the Woodstove Exchange Program has been operated at a community level through grants provided by the province, encouraging residents to exchange old, inefficient, non-EPA certified wood burning appliances for low emissions appliances, including new CSA/EPA certified clean burning wood stoves and other qualified appliances.

People who exchange their old wood burning appliances for new approved ones are eligible to receive a $250 rebate through the regional district and another $100 rebate from the City of Nelson, provided the old wood stove is rendered non-reusable and has been recycled at a regional district facility.

The City of Nelson has provided rebates under this program as follows:

  • 2016/17 two residents
  • 2015/16 three residents
  • 2014/15 six residents
  • 2013/14 funding was not available
  • 2012/13 seven residents
  • 2011/12 five residents
  • 2010/11 four residents

According to a city staff report to council the benefits of the program are extensive, noting that new appliances are proven to burn one third less wood, reduce emissions by up to 70 per cent, significantly reducing the risk of chimney fires.

In addition, the old stoves are dismantled and recycled at regional district waste facilities.

Since the launch of the program in 2007 more than 6,000 wood-burning stoves have been replaced by cleaner burning models since the province’s provincial Wood Stove Exchange Program began five years ago. This equates to a reduction of more than 370 tonnes of particulate matter released into the air.

This program has been supported by the city since 2010. Council capped the number of applicants in 2011 to a maximum of 20 stoves. Rebates are provided on a first come, first served basis.

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