Thursday, June 20, 2019

New Metro Vancouver Clean Air Plan under development

In most parts of BC, the regulation of air quality is the responsibility of the provincial government. Certain aspects of air quality regulation have been delegated to the Metro Vancouver Regional District in our part of the province.

The regional district is responsible for establishing ambient air quality objectives, and monitoring and reporting on those objectives. This can be seen in the AirMap that the regional district provides as well as the air quality advisories that are unfortunately issued regularly during the summer months.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District also issues air quality permits to control emissions from industrial facilities, as well as enforces air quality emissions regulations.

Beyond its regulatory authority, the regional district is also responsible for developing plans, strategies, and programs to manage air quality including incentivizing people and companies to improve air quality. An example of such a program is the Wood Stove Exchange program.

Greenhouse gas emissions play a large role in air quality, but are currently not within the regulatory mandate of the regional district. While industrial facilities can be large emission generators, it is emissions from transportation and our housing that creates a significant amount of emissions.

Charts showing the sources of greenhouse gas emissions within the energy sector in BC. Source: Trends in Greenhouse Gas Emissions in B.C.

Controlling vehicles emissions and building emissions (via the BC Building code) rests with the provincial government as they have the authority to regulate emissions from these sources.

Even so, the regional district can still play an important role in the reduction of emissions from vehicles and housing.

The Regional Growth Strategy is something that all municipalities in Metro Vancouver must align their official community plans with. Building complete communities that promote walking, cycling, and transit help reducing emissions and improve air quality.

The regional district adopted “Climate 2050” as the long-term air quality strategy recently. A new implementation plan is now being developed call the “Clean Air Plan.” This plan will provide concrete actions that can be taken over the next 5 to 10 years to improve air quality, and get the region closer to the goals set in “Climate 2050”.

The regional district is currently in the process of working towards getting feedback from stakeholders (including people who live in Metro Vancouver) about the development of this new Clean Air Plan. As new information becomes available, I’ll try to post it on this blog.

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