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News and Blog

April Newsletter and update


2012 has been a year of steady progress for cleaner air on the Sunshine Coast. Another successful Wood Stove Exchange program is underway. This program, funded by the BC Ministry of the Environment and the BC Lung Association, supports replacement of old inefficient wood-burning appliances with new, efficient appliances that reduce pollution output dramatically. In 2010 SCCAS provided 93 residents on the Sunshine Coasts with rebates of $250 per appliance. In 2011 we facilitated rebates for 70 purchases and in 2012 we issued 61 rebates. We have received $101,000 in grants over the last three years to fund the program. This money has been spent on education, $250 rebates to purchasers of new stoves, advertising, and administration. I am extremely proud that we have been more successful with this program than any other community in BC. (link to numbers).

We had a highly successful Burn it Smart workshop in December 2012, with over 40 people attending this free community demonstration about how to burn wood fuel efficiently to both save money and minimize pollution. I would like to acknowledge the excellent work of Nadi Fleschutt, Jim Dorey, and Jools Andrés, who have administered this program over the last three years.

SCCAS worked with the District of Sechelt to have Bylaw #486, 2012 adopted; this bylaw will see a ban on all developer/construction burns effective January 1, 2014. Until then, we can all use non-burning alternatives by transporting slash piles to Salish Soils in Sechelt for chipping or taking green waste to the landfill for free. This makes for cleaner air and turns green waste into topsoil and mulch for local gardens. We are also working with Gary Nohr of the SCRD regarding a new backyard burning bylaw for Halfmoon Bay and Roberts Creek. The bylaw draft has been written.

Educational advertising has appeared in community publications this year highlighting the Wood Stove Exchange Program, the Burn It Smart Workshop, and the general health effects of smoke. We have a dynamic, well-visited website (cleanaironthecoast.com) that is regularly updated with new and pertinent information, news, and blogs. Our Facebook page is taking on a new life, too. Please ‘like’ us at http:/ /www.facebook.com/CleanAirSociety and get in on community discussions.

We could accomplish so much more if we had volunteers to help even for a few hours per month. Visit http://cleanaironthecoast.com/cleanairsociety/volunteer/ to learn more. SCCAS Director Elizabeth McNeill coordinates our volunteers; contact her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you would like to help, or if you have a project whose focus is making the air on the Sunshine Coast cleaner that you would like to work on or initiate. We also need volunteers to help educate Coasters on composting (no burning, no smoke) and idling (no airborne pollutants). Or…can you think of other ways to reduce our air pollution?

In addition to the support that we receive from the Province of British Columbia and the BC Lung Association, grants from the Sunshine Coast Regional District and the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation and help us immensely with our programs. Furthermore, the District of Sechelt is helping to fund an air quality monitoring station in East Porpoise Bay. See the article about this subject, Air quality monitoring a reality in District of Sechelt in this newsletter.

To close, I want to thank former SCCAS directors Heather Waddell and Vicki Tyndal for their past work and to welcome Peter Wooding as a new director. In addition, I want to acknowledge the amazing work of the SCCAS Board, including Louis Legal, Ryan Logtenberg, and Elizabeth McNeill. Their dedication and selfless work has precipitated much progress for the quality of the air we breathe on the Sunshine Coast.

It is our goal to make the Sunshine Coast a healthier place by reducing the pollutants that cause and affect lung disease and respiratory illness. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Jeff Hoag


An air quality monitor will measure particulate matter in East Porpoise Bay for the next nine months. Photo: Peter Wooding

An air quality monitor was installed in East Porpoise Bay in mid-December, 2012 and SCCAS began sampling soon after on December 17. Sampling will continue over a 12-month period at three-day intervals, giving representative findings for airborne particulate matter deposition (up to both 2.5 and 10 microns) throughout four seasons. Comparisons will be made with other monitoring sites, including an identical monitor on Sechelt's Trail Bay Mall operating on the same three-day monitoring cycle.

This monitoring is the result of collaborative efforts among citizens, the District of Sechelt (DOS), SCCAS, and the Province of British Columbia. Members of the East Porpoise Bay community expressed concerns to the DOS regarding the notably heavy and increasing deposition of "dust" in and on their homes and property. The DOS, in turn, referred their concerns to SCCAS, which led to communication with the Province. Representatives of the government showed interest in restarting a program in Sechelt by establishing the current sampling site in East Porpoise Bay.

Timely monitoring is proceeding as scheduled. It will be some time before the raw results become available and even longer before an analysis is done. However, there is undoubted benefit in implementing monitoring as it has already increased community awareness of and interest in air quality concerns. We will inform the community of the results as soon as they are known.


More than 40 people attended the Burn It Smart Workshop on Dec. 8, 2012 at the Sechelt Fire Hall. Those in attendance learned how to burn fires more efficiently from Zigi Gadomski, president of Wood Energy Technicians of British Columbia, through an outdoor demonstration of efficient wood burning. Participants had many questions and gave very positive feedback. Zigi commented that “he hadn’t had such a big and enthusiastic group for a long time”.

Jools Andrés and Mieke Bray organized this successful event for the SCCAS, in part by gathering door prizes from Cozy Homes Fireplaces, Sechelt Fireplace and Gas Centre, and Sechelt Home Hardware. (There were two chimney sweep services donated at a value of $120 each!) Smaller prizes were also awarded such as fireplace matches, Fishermen’s Friend lozenges, chocolate, and tea.

Part of the enthusiasm was, no doubt, due to the refreshments. It was generous of IGA in Wilson Creek to support us by providing some of the treats.

We also thank the Sechelt Fire Department for offering the facility to us at no charge. Both the fire department and the SCCAS have the common goal of creating less air pollution and eliminating accidental fires.


In the past, many on the Sunshine Coast have suffered from the smoke and particulates that hang in the air after developers clear and burn their slash piles. For years the Sunshine Coast Clean Air Society has worked on banning those burns, as they pose known health risks, especially for children and the elderly.

In August 2012, the District of Sechelt Council passed Bylaw #486, 2012, which bans burning land clearing waste beginning January 1, 2014. Also prohibited from open air burning are: toxic materials (rubber tires, tar, asphalt, batteries, electrical wire insulation, plastic, fuel and lubricant containers, animal waste, and all similar substances that produce heavy black smoke), garbage, construction waste, and demolition waste.

No burning can take place within 100 metres (m) of any building, structure, fence, or hedge, or within 10 metres of any stream and cannot exceed 1.5 m in height or two metres in diameter. Burning cannot take place within 500 m of a school in session, hospital, or facilities used for continuing care, nor can it be within 30 m of a public roadway, airport, or within 10 m of any power pole or power line.

As far as campfires are concerned, the fire has to be in a fire pit or approved incinerator, clear of overhanging foliage, have access to a water hose and tended by someone 18 years of age or older. Campfires cannot exceed one metre in height or diameter, nor create a smoke or spark that could be a nuisance to neighbouring properties, or contravene any Federal, Provincial, or Fire Department regulations pertaining to open air burning.

Ceremonial fires are allowed and defined as an outdoor fire larger than three cubic feet as part of a scheduled public, religious, or private event, but excluding burning leaves, grass, shrubbery, clippings or cuttings.

The SCCAS supported all of the above. We hoped that the bylaw could have been enacted before Jan. 2014, but the votes in support of earlier enactment were not there.

We also did not want back yard burning to be opened during the last two weeks of October; however, Fire Chief Bill Higgs strongly recommended this. Therefore, we have a two-year pilot project to see what happens during the two weeks of back yard burning during October.

The SCCAS and others need to educate people about the alternatives to back yard burning such as composting, mulching, and taking garden wastes to the landfill or having them chipped. Perhaps we could get a total ban on back yard burning reinstated if many more residents understand and adopt alternatives to burning. Can you help?

Overall, we’re satisfied with Bylaw #486, 2012; as you can see there’s more educational work to be done to end back yard burning. Many people worked on this bylaw for years, so our thanks go to them.