Council has sent a proposed bylaw regulating burning and wood stoves back to staffers for some more work.
After discussing the proposed bylaw at a June 15 meeting, council members now want the District of Houston to have more measures available to reduce the number of wood-burning stoves and wood smoke within its boundaries.
Under the proposed bylaw, wood burning appliances that are not Canadian Standards Association-certified cannot be installed, only wood can be burned and a wood-burning appliance must be maintained to a manufacturer’s specifications.
The District does have a burning bylaw but the proposed one would provide the District with a greater range of enforcement powers.
“It also clarifies the burning permit procedure and places a higher emphasis on the enforcement of safety and the prevent of out-of-control fires from opening burning,” District staffer Holly Brown wrote in a briefing memo.
“There are also stronger regulations around activities that could have negative impacts on local air quality, as the improvement of air quality is an identified council priority.”
Houston for several years now has ranked either at the top or near the top of municipalities for emissions of fine particulate matter which can come from various sources including wood smoke, large industries, dust and motor vehicles.
Concentrations of fine particulate matter can affect breathing and inflame other medical conditions.
The problem is magnified because of where Houston is situated and accompanying atmospheric conditions so that on cold days, when wood burning increases, the air remains still so that smoke accumulates in the airshed.
The situation has been of concern to the District for several years as well and has factored in discussions with senior governments about what can be done.
Houston residents who wish to trade in their older wood stoves for new ones that carry a Canadian Standards Association certification can receive rebates both from the provincial government and from the Bulkley Valley Lakes District Airshed Management Society.
The District of Houston did have its own rebate program to act as a supplement and incentive but stopped that several years ago because of lack of demand.
The bylaw as presented to council would prohibit someone from burning wood during an air quality advisory except below 10 Degrees Celsius where no other heat source is available.
There would be no burning of tires, garbage and other items defined as noxious, recreational fires could not be left untended, recreational fires could not be lit during an air quality advisory and recreational fires would not be permitted within three metres of fuel material.
A permit for larger fires would need to be obtained from a District official and an application would need to be accompanied by a site plan “that confirms that the burning will take place on a lot larger that one hectare, 30 meres from any forested area, the approximate size of the piles and the fuel source of materials.”
Contravention of the bylaw could result in a ticket or prosecution through the provincial court system.