Municipality takes giant leap backwards on wood smoke
The reason Doctor Hasselback and the Ministry of Environment came to speak to our municipality and the reason they provided funding for an Airshed Roundtable here is because we have such a high rate of asthma in our children. They have presented the facts of our unacceptable air quality.
They can only give us the facts (as has the Fresh Air Cowichan Team) but unfortunately our leaders’ knowledge is quite lacking in this area and they are unwilling to follow the advice given. The best place for them to start to inform themselves would be Doctors and Scientists Against Wood Smoke Pollution (DSAWSP) a website that is truly informative on this topic.
In a non transparent move in August — in a community that got the 2017 BC Lung Award — North Cowichan pushed forward the idea that increasing the burning window in fall by 150 per cent would reduce air pollution. No one was allowed to comment. We asked for proof that this move would reduce particulate pollution — of course there is none — just as we have no stats either — because no municipality has ever made a giant jump backwards like this. Globally the world is moving forward to reduce air pollution, but here in Cowichan we’re on a different path, courtesy of our uninformed council. Ms. Behnsen even noted that the vehicle exhaust and the unsafety she found when she was following a truck full of debris to be reason enough to extend the fall burning season by 150 per cent. Ms. Behnsen has joined the Airshed Committee and if she had been paying attention she would have known that the first pie chart that goes up at every meeting for air pollution in the Cowichan Valley is vehicle exhaust 11 per cent, the mill 17 per cent, and 72 per cent woodsmoke.
There are many, many people with compromised lungs in the Valley who are literally stopped in their tracks when they encounter smoke, they are so allergic to it, including many children. This ruling is like making a rule that the handicapped cannot use the outdoors — as outdoor burning will be starting basically in our summer now — Sept. 15. It is most unfortunate that the province won’t step up with regulations and it’s down to each municipality to fight these fights but please council, arm yourself with some knowledge and please come to these tables where you are deciding our future with some actual facts before you.
We’re very grateful to have Jon Lefebure as our mayor because he supports banning burning. He knows, as everybody must, how detrimental it is to our health. Rob Douglas also is fully supportive, Kate Marsh, too, wants to see a ban on burning eventually but is moving forward slowly.
Fresh Air Cowichan Team