Open burning at the Alberni Golf Club may have been the final straw for the air qualilty advisory issued for the Alberni Valley, according to Ministry of Environment air quality meteorologist Earle Plain.
“It would be the tipping point,” said Plain.
The Alberni Golf Club was burning “limbs from the wind we had a couple of weeks ago,” said groundskeeper Steve White.
“On Monday when we started the burn, the ventilation was good but by today, it’s deteriorated,” he said. “Our main burn was on the Monday and then it was just down to ashes by yesterday afternoon but it’s still smouldering a bit.”
While the burn at Alberni Golf was a factor, Plain said that there are other culprits that can contribute to poor air quality.
“The normal culprits are wood stoves and people that are open burning,” he said but added that “generally speaking, people aren’t open burning this time of the year.”
The air quality advisory will likely remain in effect until weather conditions change.
“When we got really cold air in the Valley bottom and warmer air above it’s really just trapping everything, so there’s a really small volume of air in which all these pollutants mix,” said Plain.
Unlike during the last air quality advisory, burning out in the surrounding mountains by timber companies didn’t contribute to the advisory because the bigger licensees are done their open burning for this year.
“If people are [burning], they shouldn’t be. If the public sees that kind of thing going on they should be calling our RAPP line,” said Plain.
Open burning is banned in the Alberni Valley within 15 kilometres of the Port Alberni city hall until Saturday, Jan. 3. No new fires may be started and no materials may be added to existing fires. To report open burning during this time, call the Ministry of Environment RAPP line at1-877-952-7277.