Some on council think wood stoves should go
It likely won’t happen in this decade, but city councillors have indicated they would like to see wood-burning stoves being snuffed out in Kamloops homes.
The city’s new airshed-management plan, a draft of which came to council this week for a policy workshop, doesn’t set out to ban wood stoves, but targets problem burners — people using improper fuel or those with older, high-emitting appliances.
“The idea is to properly manage those wood-burning appliances,” sustainability and environmental services manager Jen Fretz told council.
“So if a neighbour is complaining that they’re getting smoked out, we would have some teeth in educating this person on proper burning practices.”
Instead of a ban, the airshed plan suggests starting a wood stove exchange program similar to those in Merritt and other communities, and doing more to educate people about the problems with burning green wood or garbage.
While newer wood stoves don’t produce the same kinds of emissions as older models, Fretz said the design makes no difference if someone uses the appliance to set fire to their trash.
Several councillors, however, said it might be time for the city to look at slowly phasing out the appliances.
“At least you would put people on notice that, 15 years from now, you’re not going to be able to burn wood in the city,” said Coun. Ken Christian, who suggested the city eventually make it a requirement that homeowners remove wood-burning stoves and fireplaces from their residences before selling them.
Coun. Tina Lange said the city’s first step should be to stop issuing permits for new wood stoves if it’s going to look at an eventual ban.
Fretz said staff had looked at the option of an outright ban on wood stoves, but had decided against bringing one in now since many people in the city still use them to provide at least some of their heat.
Mayor Peter Milobar said whatever action the city takes should be gradual, to avoid sparking a backlash, and that wood-stove education is a good first step.
“It’s similar to the dogs in a way. We don’t tell people no one in the city is allowed to have a dog; we target the people who have a problem with their animals,” he said.
“The people who are doing things properly with their wood stoves, why tell them that they can’t have a wood stove?”
Fretz told KTW wood-burning appliances were a major point of contention when city staff consulted the public for the plan, with equal numbers of people defending the stoves and complaining of health issues caused by the smoke.
“It wasn’t one of those issues where people were sitting on the fence,” said Fretz.
However, she said, it’s difficult to determine how much of an effect the stoves are having on the city’s overall air quality.
“Overall, do we see impacts of wood stoves on the technical readings from the instruments? Not really,” she said.
“But, if you live next door to somebody who has poor burning practices, I would think that air quality is greatly impacted by it. It’s kind of a tough question to answer.”
The draft airshed plan also calls for the city to trade in its older vehicles for low-emitting models and to set higher fees for burning permits.
Staff will also look at bringing in stricter regulations around drive-thrus, though there are no plans to ban them outright, despite some suggestions from the public to do so.
The city is also working with the provincial Ministry of Environment to better measure Kamloops’ air quality and will set up a system to track air-quality complaints from residents neighbourhood by neighbourhood.
The draft plan will come back for further debate and adoption at a later date after staff make tweaks based on council’s suggestions.