Our take: We all must do our part to clear the smoke

Resisting the urge to burn is not something that is hardwired into Cowichan’s DNA.

This is a community that was built on and with wood. Trees are everywhere we look: towering, plentiful and easy to replace.

We’ve been cutting it down to build our homes and earn our livings for as long as anyone can remember.

And if we need to get warm, or clear away waste, we have always done what is safe and easy: we burn.

So we recognize change is not going to come easy. But change we must.

Last week, the Ministry of Health issued an air quality warning for the Cowichan Valley.

The amount of particulates in our air posed a risk for infants, the elderly and those with heart and lung issues. They were urged to stay indoors, while their friends and neighbours were banned from open burning.

Cowichan is in an atmospheric bowl where air tends to settle and stay. Its population continues to grow. The number of cars on our roads and the increased potential for burning means the risk of bad air here will only increase.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District recognizes the issue. It also recognizes the number of residents who cling to their pioneer values. It has tried to bring changed attitudes to the valley in a slow, methodical fashion.

The windows when people can burn are shrinking. Access to alternatives to burning are growing. Incentives are being offered to encourage homeowners to upgrade their inefficient woodburning stoves.

We aren’t the big city and we don’t want to be. Clean air is something we all prize. Make your own changes.

Let’s clear the smoke.

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