By Spencer Hall, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

Village of Valemount staff are looking into installing air sensors to gather data on local air quality after a recommendation from the Village’s Clean Air Task Force.

The air sensors, known as Purple air sensors because of their brand name, measure particle pollution — also referred to as PM2.5 — in real time and are used to collect data on local air quality.

In her report to Council, Valemount Deputy Corporate Officer, Carleena Shepard, said that because of Valemount’s poor air quality, the sensors could provide useful data for future initiatives spearheaded by the task force.

Should the Village acquire these sensors, they would be distributed around the community and would allow the task force to collect air quality information from different areas of Valemount, allowing the task force to identify areas with high levels of particle pollution, compare the local data with data collected from the provincial air quality monitor, and discover targeted areas for the Village’s Wood Smoke Reduction program.

The task force also requested Council allow them to contact BC Hydro to set up a presentation for Council to get more information about the crown corporation’s Kinbasket Reservoir Revegetation program.

This comes after the Columbia River Treaty’s Local Government Committee contacted the Ministry of Environment earlier this year with ongoing concerns about dust events coming from the Kinbasket and other reservoir drawdown zones along the Columbia River.

“The Ministry is planning to meet with a Columbia River Treaty (CRT) Local Government Committee representative to clarify the nature of concern and understand which groups and agencies are engaged,” Shepard said in her report.

The task force discussed local dust storms at its November 2nd meeting and felt Council would benefit from receiving the same information shared with members of the CBT Local Governments Committee.

Council approved both recommendations at its December 12th meeting.