The association representing woodstoves is fighting bans by municipal governments in the Comox Valley. File photo

The association representing woodstoves is fighting bans by municipal governments in the Comox Valley. File photo

Industry fighting back against B.C. woodstove bans

Clean-air advocates not sold on industry data about new stoves

The industry association for woodstove producers is fighting back against local government attempts to curb use of woodstoves as a heating source.

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada (HPBAC) recently launched a publicity campaign to “overturn the ban” in Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley area, including a website devoted to the issue.

Adam De Caire, the association’s director of public affairs, told Black Press Media the group is disappointed by the actions of local governments in recent years that pose obstacles for the inclusion of new, cleaner woodstoves in homes. The campaign is the first of its kind for the HPBAC and went live in late January.

“This campaign seemed like the logical next step after a disappointing level of engagement/consultation from local municipalities,” he said. “Banning future installations is the easy path for municipalities, but does not make a measurable improvement to air quality.”

The goal of the HPBAC campaign is to let residents know about the local restrictions as well as educate them on the wood-burning stoves sold in 2021 versus misconceptions they might have. One of their arguments is that the newer stoves burn cleaner with far less particulate matter.

“If a resident sees a neighbour’s chimney letting off large amounts of smoke, then it is highly likely that the offender is using an appliance that is many years or decades old,” De Caire said.

Stoves sold before 1988 had no limits on emissions. The HPBAC’s data show old stoves could emit 40-50 grams of particulate matter per house. The post-1988 stoves might emit just over eight, with further reductions since 2015. A stove sold and installed today in B.C. now can emit a maximum of 2.5 grams per hour, De Caire added.

This response from the industry was prompted by bylaw decisions made in three Vancouver Island municipalities.

Courtenay updated its bylaw in May 2020, to restrict solid fuel-burning appliances either to new buildings or through renovations to existing ones. Since December 2018, Cumberland has prohibited woodstoves in new residential buildings, to go with a ban on yard waste and land-clearing burning from 2017. Black Press had yet to hear back from Comox at the time of this posting, but its website shows its building bylaw was amended in 2019 to include a woodstove ban.)

RELATED STORY: Comox council says no to wood stoves in renos and construction

RELATED STORY: ‘Hot spot’ wood smoke areas identified in Comox Valley

Clean-air advocates, on the other hand, are worried about the prospect of more woodstoves in the Comox Valley. They point to evidence that the area already has some of the poorest air quality in the province, especially in the cold winter months when more people are burning.

“We need to cap the numbers of stoves and start reversing the trend,” said Jennell Ellis of Breathe Clean Air Comox Valley. “From our point of view, these bylaws that industry are fighting are just one small step.”

The organization has a Facebook group with nearly 300 members. It also includes information about air quality threats on its website, and links to the province’s air quality index and pollution numbers. The group also cites reports from the BC Lung Association and the provincial government that note the community’s high particulate numbers for the area not only around the Georgia Strait region but the province as a whole.

Breathe Clean Air Comox Valley is not convinced by arguments about new cleaner woodstoves, saying the evidence the industry provides is based on optimum use, not necessarily on stoves that have been around for a few years.

“Even the best burners are still putting out way more pollution,” Ellis said. “If we’re going to clean up our air, we can’t keep putting in more woodstoves.”

De Caire said the association is part of an area airshed round table but is disappointed that local governments enacted their bans.

“The City of Courtenay preempted the work of this group by imposing a ban … with no consultation of the industry, and as far as we can see, of the community at large. We have experienced a similar lack of consultation or engagement from the Town of Comox and the Village of Cumberland,” he said.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

air quality

Just Posted

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

Most Read