FVRD disputes clean air claim

The regional district has challenged a recent report that ranks Fraser Valley as having the cleanest air in Canada.

A national study recently ranked Abbotsford third best for the quality of its air, but the Fraser Valley Regional District says the findings are “gravely misleading.”

The American company Honeywell Air Purifiers commissioned a Canadian study that found that Abbotsford had the third cleanest air of the 50 municipalities considered.

B.C. cities swept the national list, taking six of the ten spots: Langley (first), Kelowna (second), Richmond (fourth), Vancouver (eighth), and Burnaby (ninth).

The FVRD protested the findings in a press release on Thursday, saying that despite improvements, the Fraser Valley’s air quality is far short of ideal.

“Over the last two decades, air quality in the Fraser Valley has improved—in some measurements—but going from a ‘C-‘ to a ‘C’ grade tells me we have a long way to go before our air quality is in the ‘A’ grade range,” said chair Sharon Gaetz.

The FVRD pointed to a 2012 report by the B.C. Lung Association that found that although B.C. cities fared much better than other parts of Canada, within the Lower Mainland the Fraser Valley’s air quality was worse than that of Vancouver.

Specifically, the B.C. Lung Association found ground-level ozone to be highest in Hope, followed by Chilliwack, Abbotsford, and Maple Ridge.

Environment Canada studies have also found that smog from elsewhere gets trapped in the Fraser Valley.

According to Gaetz, the FVRD has repeatedly requested the full data of the Honeywell Air Purifiers study, to no avail.

In the release, Gaetz went on to raise the alarm about Metro Vancouver’s plan to build a waste-to-energy incinerator.

“Any increase in emissions of air contaminants in the fragile Fraser Valley airshed from an additional incinerator, as proposed by Metro Vancouver, or other sources, will significantly undermine air quality improvements in the Fraser Valley, and further exacerbate the ongoing challenge with reducing ozone levels,” said Gaetz.