B.C. Air Quality

The Legislative Framework

The air-quality-management system in British Columbia has many components. They range from binding instruments, such as acts and regulations, to nonbinding instruments, such as standards, objectives and guidelines. The structure below explains the different instruments:



Examples Relating to Air Quality Management

  • formal law enacted by the B.C. Legislature (and proclaimed by the Lieutenant-Governor)
  • usually requires or prohibits something, or declares policy

Environmental Management Act

  • a regulation sets conditions, under the authority of an act, on how certain types of industrial or business activities may be undertaken

Waste Discharge Regulation

permit / approval
  • authorization by the government to discharge waste or emissions into the environment, subject to conditions and criteria that will prevent pollution
  • in B.C., high-risk industry requires an authorization to introduce waste into the environment — in the form of a permit, an approval, a regulation, an operational certificate, an order or a waste management plan
  • permits are legally enforceable

Waste Discharge Authorizations

code of practice
  • "minister's regulations": legally enforceable standards that may apply to industries, trades, businesses and other activities

Concrete and Concrete Products Industry Code of Practice

objectives / standards
  • (air quality) levels for specific pollutants that are determined to be necessary to protect human health and/or the environment
  • usually include a numeric pollutant concentration, averaging time, rules or guidance on sampling methodology, and how the objectives or standards are to be applied
  • may also be referred to as "air quality criteria" or "guidelines"

Air Quality Objectives and Standards

  • advice or instructions to guide or direct an action, provide the steps to follow with respect to an act or regulation (See objective / standard.)

Guidelines for Air Quality Dispersion Modelling in British Columbia

  • the amounts of pollution and lengths of exposure beyond which air pollution and illness may occur. (See objective / standard)

Provincial Ambient Air Quality Criteria for PM2.5: Ministry Intentions Paper

  • law established by a municipality

Inventory of Air Quality Bylaws in British Columbia for: Anti-Idling, Open-Burning and Wood-Burning Appliances



The Ministry of Environment is responsible for making sure making sure that air-quality-related legislation is followed. For more information, see the ministry's Compliance and Conservation Officer Service websites.

For information on the process of developing regulations, see the Environmental Management Act, Waste Discharge Regulation and EMA Codes of Practice Development and Regulatory Review websites.

For information on obtaining an authorization to discharge waste to the environment, see Waste Discharge Authorizations.

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