B.C. Air Quality

B.C.'s Plans for Improving Air Quality

B.C. Government Initiatives

The B.C. government is committed to protecting the health of British Columbians, communities and the environment. Taking action to reduce air pollution will help improve the health of the province’s citizens, address the government’s air quality targets, preserve our environment and enhance our economic competitiveness.

The government developed the B.C. Air Action Plan in 2008, which allocated $28.5 million over three years to improve and enhance air quality across the province and protect British Columbians' health. The three-year plan focused on clean transportation, clean industry and clean communities.

    27 of the 28 actions are now fully in place including:

  • promoting a province wide, anti-idling campaign;
  • encouraging companies to use the cleanest available technologies;
  • supporting people in replacing old wood stoves with cleaner alternatives; and,
  • making B.C.’s vehicle fleet greener through Green Fleets B.C.

Highlights of Air Action Plan initiatives include:

Clean Transportation

  • legislation that sets strict tailpipe-emission standards for all new, light-duty vehicles sold in the province: the Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Vehicle Emissions Standards) Act;
    (Note: These standards are targeted at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles by 30 percent, to address climate change. They will also help reduce air pollutants from fossil fuel combustion — key sources of particulate matter — and VOCs and NOx, the gases that form ground-level ozone.)
  • cleaning up emissions from transit and school buses (see Diesel School Bus Retrofit Program);
  • retrofitting older heavy-duty diesel vehicles;
  • reducing idling through the Provincial Idle-Reduction Initiative;
  • greening B.C.’s vehicle fleet by supporting Green Fleets BC and enhancing effective programs such as the Scrap-It Program and Air Care ON-ROAD; and
  • supporting greener ports and marine vessels, through the Green Ports and Marine Vessels Emissions Reduction Project.

Clean Industry

  • eliminating beehive burners;
  • turning more wood waste into energy;
  • working with the bioenergy industry and others to develop new fine particulate standards for industrial boilers; and
  • encouraging companies to use the cleanest available technologies.

Clean Communities

  • taking an active role in airshed planning;
  • supporting people to replace old wood stoves with cleaner alternatives;
  • implementing a provincial smoke-management plan; and
  • supporting research on air quality and health.

The 28 actions outlined in the Air Action Plan complement the work underway across B.C. to improve air quality, enhance public transit, address climate change and protect our water.

In addition, the B.C. Government is carrying out the following efforts, which support the B.C. Air Action Plan:

Air Quality Management System
The Air Quality Management System (AQMS) is a new comprehensive management system that is designed to better protect human health and the environment. It does this through:

  • new Canadian Ambient Air Quality  Standards (CAAQS) for fine particulates and ozone,
  • new Base-Level Industrial Emission Requirements for major industries and some equipment types,
  • air zone management that supports actions to improve air quality and keep clean areas clean,
  • enhanced coordination where air pollution crosses jurisdictional borders, and
  • increased collaboration on actions to reduce transportation emissions.

For more information on AQMS and how it is being implemented in B.C., see the New Air Quality Management System fact sheet.

Air Quality Legislation
The provincial government is also addressing air pollution through legislation, codes of practice, permits and standards.

Municipal Activities

Local and regional governments have the authority to pass bylaws to control emissions from many nonpoint sources, such as backyard burning and residential wood burning. See Inventory of Air Quality Bylaws in B.C.

Municipalities also have authority over activities that may give rise to emissions, such as transportation and land-use planning, regional growth strategies and sustainability plans.

Metro Vancouver plays a critical part in air quality management in British Columbia. The Province has delegated Metro Vancouver planning and permitting/enforcement powers, under the Environmental Management Act.

Metro Vancouver has used its authority under the act, through regional bylaws, to develop emission-reduction requirements and standards for industrial, commercial and institutional types of emission sources. It has also adopted a formal air-quality-management plan, with specific goals, timelines, and emission-reduction measures to meet the goals. Visit Metro Vancouver's air quality site to learn more.

Federal Initiatives

The Government of Canada is working on many fronts to improve air quality. Partnerships are crucial to getting the job done — with the provincial and territorial governments, as well as local governments, industry and nongovernmental organizations. See the Environment Canada website to learn more.

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