Air quality program has politician fuming

North Okanagan jurisdictions will be asked if they are interested in funding a service

A regional air quality program is just at the discussion stage but opposition is already surfacing.

The Regional District of North Okanagan board voted Wednesday to determine if member jurisdictions are interested in possibly establishing an air quality service, but rural Lumby director Rick Fairbairn made it clear he’s not interested.

“Our residents, and I don’t think that has changed, were not interested,” said Fairbairn of RDNO’s previous function which his area refused to join.

The old program was scrapped almost six years ago as some jurisdictions weren’t involved and others questioned the service’s activities and costs.

However, Coldstream director Doug Dirk wants the issue investigated again.

“The airshed is one airshed. It’s not just smoke, it’s dust as well,” he said.

“The leadership should come from this level.”

Last fall, the Ministry of Environment told the board that open burning and wood stoves are the leading sources of pollution in the region.

“The background levels are already high,” said Dirk.

However, Fairbairn insists air quality isn’t a regional district mandate.

“Smoke is controlled by other agencies (provincial),” he said.

If a new air quality service is to proceed, RDNO staff are demanding that participating jurisdictions are clear about what they want.

“What’s important is the scope of the service. The last time, there was a lack of clarity about what we were supposed to be doing,” said David Sewell, chief administrative officer.

Vernon Morning Star

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