‘Caring for the Air’ report shows improvements in regional air quality


RESIDENTS and visitors across Metro Vancouver continue to enjoy good air quality despite the growing population, thanks in part to a series of emission-reduction actions in effect across the region, according to the annual ‘Caring for the Air’ report released this week.

The report, published by Metro Vancouver since 2012, describes the key air quality and climate change issues affecting the region and highlights the efforts to improve conditions in the Lower Fraser Valley airshed, which stretches from West Vancouver to Hope.

“Our air quality in Metro Vancouver is very good, but there’s always more we can do to make it better,” said Metro Vancouver Board Chair Greg Moore. “We’re committed to working with our local partners to further improve air quality and tackle climate change to ensure residents have healthy air to breathe for generations to come.”

Metro Vancouver’s plans and policies address air pollutants such as fine particles, sulphur dioxide and ground-level ozone, as well as greenhouse gases. All efforts are supported by a comprehensive outdoor air quality monitoring network and by tracking emissions in the shared airshed, which includes Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District, as well as Whatcom County in Washington.

Here are some highlights from this year’s report:

* Actions to curb greenhouse gases in the region are helping us make progress towards reduction targets.

* New monitoring techniques and measurements demonstrate the considerable impacts of traffic on our road or near-road air quality.

* Sulphur dioxide levels continue to decline, partly due to stricter requirements for lower sulphur content in marine fuel.

* Increased uptake of electric vehicles in the region is expected to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants.

* Tips to help save gas and reduce emissions.

* Improving energy efficiency in homes is being encouraged through a strata energy advisor program and RateOurHome.ca.

Metro Vancouver is also developing a new integrated regional climate action strategy designed to build on the climate action activities that are underway and to identify opportunities to accelerate progress towards reducing GHGs.

“We need to continue to work hard year after year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions coming from cars, trucks or heating; we cannot afford to become complacent,” said Derek Corrigan, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Climate Action Committee. “Each year Metro Vancouver and its member jurisdictions continue to implement a wide range of climate actions from the adoption of electric fleet vehicles to low carbon energy systems used to heat buildings.”

Metro Vancouver operates an extensive Air Quality Monitoring Network with 29 permanent stations and one mobile unit. The network collects air data from Horseshoe Bay to Hope every hour of the day, seven days a week. Real-time data from the monitoring network is available at www.airmap.ca. Metro Vancouver also sets air quality objectives, responds to air quality complaints, and enforces bylaws pertaining to air emissions from industry, businesses, and residences.