Worst year for wood smoke

It has reached such an epidemic downtown that we can only open our bedroom windows after midnight and must close them before 6 a.m.

Editor, The News:

Mayor and council, this year, for us, has been the absolute worst in the past four for wood smoke.

It has reached such an epidemic in our area of downtown that we can only open our bedroom windows after midnight and must close them before 6 a.m.

I am sure part of the reason is that the developer of the property immediately behind our townhouse complex cleared away the forest last autumn, thus eliminating the wind break the forest provided.

I do not blame him as he must do his development and is not the root cause of the problem.

I am astounded by how many of the homes in this area use wood as a full-time or supplementary heating source.

While I assume they are only burning firewood, the disgusting and abusive odors that are emitted from some of the chimneys suggest that there is more than wood being burned.

I know from previous experience that the district refuses to deal with the issue, claiming it is a regional responsibility. However, I can not understand how the district can promote the building of high density residential buildings in areas where the residents are going to be subjected to the well documented, negative health effects of residential wood smoke.

Will the district contribute to the increased health care costs for all of these people who suffer from conditions in the future?

The district often dolls out money to attract potential developers to Maple Ridge, but does little or nothing to deal with existing problems  such as wood smoke, and septic systems, which are dumping human waste in creeks that are supposed to be protected fish habitat.

This is not a regional issue, but a District of Maple Ridge one, and, more importantly, a serious and easily avoidable health issue.

Sure those with wood burning appliances will slough it off as ‘we were here first,’ but that is a simplistic and myopic approach. It seems that the district and region would be better off to encourage and even subsidize homeowners to switch to cleaner and more efficient fuel sources. The savings in health care costs will easily repay the investment.

I wonder, as well, whether the developer was aware that he was going to be building an apartment complex with wood burning homes on three sides of the new building. Of course this feature will not appear in the marketing brochures, but I am sure the new owners will not be pleased to learn their shiny new apartment is siting on top of their neighbours chimney.

It is time to really begin thinking more strategically to efficiently and effectively address some of the health and quality of life issues facing our citizens and communities, making smart decisions today to avoid future costs.

John Kelly

Maple Ridge

 

Time has come

Editor, The News:

Last winter I was so sick with asthma from Christmas smoke in my neighbourhood that I ended up on six weeks of prednisone – never mind the eight inhalations of cortico-steriods a day.

I started a neighbourhood education campaign, and so far there as been no fireplace smoke in my immediate neighbourhood. So far.

A three-hour open fireplace burn is the equivalent of smoking 240 packs of cigarettes in your backyard during the same time period.

Metro Vancouver has the mandate to regulate point source pollution, including wood smoke emissions. The time has come to do so. There are readily available technologies and strategies available to governments, the heating (and wood burn) industries, and to individual home owners which will significantly reduce wood smoke.  What is missing is a coordinated strategy and the political leadership to invoke change.

James Rowed

Vancouver