Improving Air Quality
Improving air quality in Prince George is a key goal of the City’s Official Community Plan. Human beings play a part in polluting the air and everyday activities can have significant impacts on local and neighbourhood air quality. Air quality improvement is everybody’s responsibility and daily behaviour changes can lead to positive developments in reducing air quality problems.
Air Quality Improvement Tips
- Don’t churn up dust. Dust advisories are common in the early spring months. Take special care to mitigate dust.
- Don’t drive on the shoulder of the road, as this churns up winter traction materials that are waiting to be swept by City crews.
- Sprinkle a thin layer of water or wait until after recent rainfall before sweeping driveways and/or patios.
- Drive slowly on gravel roads.
- Limit use of recreational vehicles (e.g. dirt bikes, ATVs, UTVs) on gravel pathways during long spells of dry weather.
- Owners and operators of loading and storage areas, parking lots, sand and gravel pits, demolition sites, construction sites, and highways must make sure dust is controlled at all times.
- Reduce vehicle usage. Vehicle traffic is one of the biggest contributors to air pollution and every trip made without a car is a reduction in emissions.
- Try taking the bus, walking, or riding a bike for short trips.
- Plan ahead and combine errands. Park and walk instead of driving to each location.
- Don’t idle a car. Turn off vehicles when not in use.
- Carpool whenever possible and practicable.
- Avoid burning wood and opt for non-wood burning appliances. Smoke from wood stoves, fireplaces, and backyard fires can affect neighbourhood air quality. Wood smoke is particularly hard on children, the elderly, or individuals who have respiratory ailments.
- Swap out old wood stoves for more efficient appliances through the
Woodstove Exchange Program.
- If a wood stove and/or fireplace must be used, ensure dry, seasoned firewood is used as fuel and that the wood stove/fireplace is cleaned regularly and meets EPA and CSA regulations.
- Don’t burn wet yard materials. All yard waste cannot be burned under the Clean Air Bylaw.
- Clean BBQs regularly.
- Practice Energy Efficiency at home. The typical residence is a big energy waster due to poor heating methods and air leaks.
- Properly insulate a home. Install vapour barriers, caulk or weather-strip cracks and holes, and doors and windows.
- Close heating vents and doors to rooms that are not being used and replace old windows with more energy efficient ones.
- Use a fan rather than an air conditioner in the summer and put on a sweater rather than turning up the heat in the winter.
Clean Air Bylaw
Clean Air Bylaw No. 8266, 2010 regulates the use of wood-burning appliances, open burning, recreational fires, and fugitive dust control within the City of Prince George.
- No person shall use a wood burning appliance at any time during an air quality advisory unless it is their sole source of heat.
- No person shall operate a wood burning appliance in such a manner to significantly contribute to the cause of injury or damage to human health, plant or animal life or so as to unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of life or property.
- No person shall install a hydronic heater (outdoor wood boiler) on any property in the City of Prince George.
- No person shall install a wood burning appliance in or about any premise unless it meets the particulate emission requirements of the Canadian standard or the US standard.
- No person shall cause or allow any substance to be burned in any wood burning appliance other than seasoned (minimum 6 months) wood fuel. Garbage or other noxious material is not allowed.
Open burning is not allowed in the City of Prince George (excluding recreational fires) at any time on any property within municipal boundaries. This includes the burning of grass, leaves, tree material, and land clearing debris.
The definition of open burning is the combustion in the open air of yard and garden waste, land clearing debris, or any other material, including burning of any of these materials in a container (including burn barrels). This does not include the burning of gas, propane or charcoal in a barbeque or hibachi for the purpose of cooking food.
- A recreational fire must be contained in a permanent outdoor fireplace or fire pit not larger than 60cm in diameter that is designed and constructed to confine the fire.
- No person shall have a recreational fire if an air quality advisory has been issued. If the fire was started prior to the issuance of the air quality advisory, that person shall take all reasonable steps to extinguish the fire within an hour of the advisory being issued.
- No person shall burn yard and garden waste, garbage or noxious materials. Only seasoned wood (dried a minimum of six months) may be burned.
- No person shall maintain a recreational fire in such a manner to significantly contribute to the cause of injury or damage to human health, plant or animal life or so as to unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of life or property.
- All persons maintaining a recreational fire shall be competent to do so, continuously control and supervise the fire, and possess at the site extinguishing equipment appropriate for the size of fire.
- The recreational fire shall not be allowed to come within three (3) meters of any property line, fence, standing timber, brush, or building.
fugitive dust control
- No person shall sweep or maintain any highway or off street parking, loading or storage areas except with the use of equipment, using fugitive dust control procedures or dust suppressing liquids (prior to and during sweeping in amounts sufficient to minimize the generation of dust).
- No person shall undertake any sweeping or maintenance of highway or off-street parking, loading or storage areas at any time when an air quality advisory is in effect unless approved by an Authorized Person on the basis that dust suppression measures satisfactory to the Authorized Person will be taken to control fugitive dust.
- All off-street parking, loading and storage areas, sand and gravel pits, demolition sites, construction sites and highways must be maintained so the dust does not escape in such a manner as to cause injury or interfere with the enjoyment of life or property.
The clean air goal identified in the City’s Annual Report is supported by the City’s Clean Air Bylaw No. 8266, 2010 that regulates dust generation and sweeping, open burning, recreational fires, and wood-burning appliances. The City Fleet Idling Policy, as well as the Energy Efficiency and GHG Reduction Policy work in conjunction with the Clean Air Bylaw to improve air quality.
- Advance activities and operations that are environmentally sustainable
- Develop and integrate transportation linkages, means and solutions
- Monitor and work to decrease greenhouse gas emissions
Prince George Air Improvement Roundtable
The Prince George Air Improvement Roundtable (PGAIR) is co-ordinated by the Fraser Basin Council and includes members from:
- The City of Prince George
- Ministry of Environment (MoE)
- Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI)
- Northern Health
- The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George (RDFFG)
- The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC)
- Husky Energy
- Canfor Pulp
- Carrier Lumber
- Members of the public
The “multi-stakeholder, community-based non-profit society” is “committed to researching, monitoring, recommending, and implementing air quality improvements, and promoting public awareness and education in the Prince George air shed, with the goal of improving the air quality in the community.”
There is also a Research Group and Monitoring Working Group under PGAIR. The City of Prince George and its representatives played fundamental roles in the creation of PGAIR and its continued achievements. Council continues to support PGAIR with $70,000 of funding annually plus an additional $50,000 for air quality monitoring and research. A member of City Staff sits on PGAIR’s Board of Directors, operational committee, and Monitoring Working Group.