Air Quality in the Central Okanagan
The Air Quality Program is a joint initiative between the City of Kelowna, Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO), District of Peachland, District of West Kelowna, and the District of Lake Country.
The Air quality Program helps protect and improve our air through education, awareness and pollution prevention programs. The 2007 Air Quality Management plan identified open burning and residential wood burning as the main causes of degraded air quality in the Central Okanagan; however, recent emissions data highlights the increasing importance of vehicle emissions. The current Air Quality Programs are based on the 2007 Air Quality Managment Plan.
After six years of implementation, the Regional District is now seeking to evaluate the progress made on reducing air pollution, and to update the goals, strategies and actions for continuing to manage air pollution for the next five years and beyond. Updating the Regional Airshed Management Plan provides an important opportunity to identify changing sources of air pollution and update strategies needed to address regional air quality concerns.
Regional Airshed Management Plan Overview
The project to develop a new Regional Airshed Management plan started in late 2012 and was divided into two phases:
Phase 1- Research and Review, this phase will provide the current state of air quality in the Central Okanagan, an assessment of the progress made to date in managing activities that impact local air quality and will highlight potential strategies for inclusion in the updated plan during Phase 2 of the project.
Phase 2 -Consultation and Preparation of the Final Plan. A new mission, identification of general goals, objectives and targets, estimated costs of actions and posibble programs will be included in the plan.
An advisory group was formed to guide the overall plan development and provide expertise and advice. Local government staff and key stakeholder representatives are participating and contributing ideas during the updating process of the Regional Airshed Management Plan of the Central Okanagan, including stakeholders such as: Interior Health, Ministry of Environment (provincial), Environment Canada, Health Canada, and representatives from all local government partners.
As of February 2014, the Regional Airshed Management Phase I -Research and Review- which inform phase II of the process, has been completed and the preliminary report has been presented to the Regional Governance and Services Committee for approval to move forward with Phase II.
The second phase includes- A Public Consultation and the preparation of the Final Plan.
An online Public consultation to inform strategies and activities will be open for comments late April.
And the Final Plan is expected to be finished by June 2014.
We can all improve our local air quality.
Within the Regional District of Central Okanagan there are a few specific circumstances when burning may occur:
Open burning is only permitted when the Venting Index is 65 or greater and particulate matter (PM 2.5) concentration is less than 15 µg/m3
Current Open Burning Conditions
Residents with a valid permit are required to check the air quality conditions on the day that they want to burn. Conditions are updated daily at 7:15am. The conditions can also be accessed by calling 1-855-262-BURN(2876).
A local fire department may exempt a permit holder from the venting and air quality regulations when burning is required specifically for a fuel modification project to dispose of fire hazard materials and protect public safety by reducing the potential for interface wildfires. Permit holders may be subject to other conditions from the fire department issuing the permit.
Areas within the Regional District that are outside of a fire protection area fall under the Provincial Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation. Residents must contact the Regional District at 250-469-6223 to confirm that they are outside of a fire protection area. For more information about Outdoor Burning Information click here.
Regional Air Quality Coordinator