A year-round ban on backyard burning might soon be coming to the city of Port Alberni.
“Our air quality data shows that there is an air quality problem in Port Alberni and backyard burning is one easily controllable source that we can work to address,” said Sarah Thomas of the Port Alberni Air Quality Council.
“Burning less is always better.”
“All the different pollutants cause different effects on human health, on animals, plants, our ecosystem,” said Ministry of Environment meteorologist Earle Plaine.
The AQC asked city council for a year-round burning ban to expand the current summertime ban because air quality in the Alberni Valley decreases dramatically in the winter.
“During the warm season you have good dispersion, not a whole lot of sources,” said Plaine.
“But as soon as we enter the cold season we start to see a real change… the atmosphere can’t disperse the emissions as well as it can when it’s warm.”
Colder weather also comes with an increase in combustion sources, said Plaine.
According to a 2005 report, Plaine said, the province spent $167 million that year on health-care costs associated with poor air quality.
But it’s not just health that’s affected.
“Air pollution impacts tourism and retirement,” said Plaine.
“It affects industrial development—if you’ve got a community that’s at its threshold in terms of air quality… there’s not a lot of wiggle room to add new emission sources.”
City council directed staff to come forward with a report on options on a year-round backyard burning ban.