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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The village is hoping for a start date in early April with completion as soon as possible. (Granisle Village website photo/Houston Today)
Granisle’s curling rink to receive a facelift

Receives a $362,148 provincial grant

A huge milestone for Granisle to reach 50 years, said Mayor. (Village of Granisle photo/Lakes District News)
Granisle’s 50 years anniversary celebration postponed

The celebrations are now set to be held in 2022

Topley is part of the 10 projects funded in the north. (Laura Blackwell photo/Houston Today)
Topley to receive economic funding

Part of province’s $20.7 million Climate Adaptation Program

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Most Read