Letter: Air quality & a moonscape

The recent report on the air quality in Valemount is most alarming. To see that we exceed the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standard by a very large margin should make us all extremely concerned about our health and our future. The culprit would seem to be wood smoke from folks heating their houses but there may in fact be another smoking gun we have not considered. We live on the downwind end of a massive reservoir. For most of the year there are dozens of kilometers of exposed Silica based moonscape literally in our backyard. As the reservoir drains we at the north end pay the price. The prevailing wind here in Valemount is from the south-east to the north-west, right up the reservoir. We have all seen the ‘dust storms’ that occur on a windy day. That ‘dust’ is from the exposed lake bottom. A lake bottom that for the most part is completely un-vegetated and ready to be blown into our area with even minor amounts of wind. As I recall in the past the determination of good or bad air quality was based on the weight of the air filters collecting the air-transported materials. I believe that’s still the case today. What the residents need to know is what exactly is in those filters. Is it completely the fault of wood burning appliances or are there other contributing factors like wind transported fine particulates from Kinbasket Lake? If an analysis of the contents of these filters was undertaken and it could be proven that this seasonal desert we endure year after year is responsible for our extreme air quality then we should be pointing fingers at the real cause… BC Hydro. The burning of wood to heat our homes would seem to be a fact of life like hundreds of other towns and villages in BC. Why is it that they don’t suffer from horrid air quality as we do here in Valemount? As for wood burning, British Columbia is poised to develop a huge liquid natural gas export industry. How about natural gas for BC first, then perhaps develop an export business? There never seems to be any conversation regarding natural gas coming to the Robson Valley and our local politicians should be on that bandwagon. Perhaps a line from the Kamloops area could be a component of the Trans Mountain twinning project. That would be a huge leap forward for all residents in the Robson Valley and provide a clean, viable and affordable alternative to heating with wood.

Wayne Van Velzen
Valemount, BC

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