The Strathcona Regional District has signed onto an incentive program aimed at helping to improve our air quality.
In 2017, the regional district will join the province’s wood stove exchange program to help residents replace older, smoky wood stoves with wood, pellet or gas heating appliances certified to national standards.
Victoria Smith, the regional district’s special projects and sustainability manager, said the regional district has been offered a grant from the province, through the BC Lung Association, worth $13,400 to run the program.
The regional district will offer an incentive to residents who choose to dispose of their old wood stoves which are said to contribute to fine particulate air pollution.
The incentive will apply to all four of the regional district’s electoral areas, as well as the communities of Gold River, Sayward, Tahsis and Zeballos.
“This would enable a $250 rebate incentive for up to 26 appliances exchanged, as well as provide educational and promotional materials and some staff staff,” Smith said.
The regional district will also chip in $3,000 of its own money for educational and promotional activities in order to raise awareness of the program.
The City of Campbell River has been part of the wood stove exchange program for years and has offered the $250 rebates on a first come, first served basis.
At a regional district board meeting earlier this month, Campbell River Director Charlie Cornfield said the program has been very effective.
“It made a huge difference in our air quality in a lot of the neighbourhoods,” said Cornfield, who suggested the regional district work with the city to cut down on promotional costs. “I’m sure you’ll work in co-operation with the City of Campbell River, who have developed a lot of the communications tools and that should help reduce our costs significantly.”
Since the province implemented the wood stove exchange program in March of 2009, nearly 400 old wood stoves have been exchanged across B.C. That has reduced the amount of fine particulate matter by more than 37 tonnes per year.
According to the B.C. government’s B.C. Air Quality website, wood smoke contains “a large array of organic and inorganic compounds – the normal byproducts of wood combustion. It may also contain minute amounts of dioxins and furans, and a variety of other proven and suspected carcinogens.”
The regional district was prompted to apply for funding to join the wood stove exchange program after Board Chair John MacDonald, in his capacity as mayor of the Village of Sayward, brought forward the initiative to the regional district’s chief administrative officer, Dave Leitch.
MacDonald acknowledged that Smith, “took the bull by the horns and was successful in getting us the grant funding.”