Parksville not seeking total ban on woodstoves

Council looking at a bylaw that would allow certified woodstoves in future residences

Any wood-burning appliance installed in Parksville will have to be certified by the Canadian Standards Association, if the bylaw council gave three readings Monday night is eventually adopted.

Council debated the issue at length, with Coun. Sue Powell suggesting it does not go far enough. She wanted a total ban on future installations and may introduce that provision into the bylaw in future readings. For that reason, she voted against the three readings, which passed in a 5-1 vote.

“I don’t think we understand the health impact it (wood smoke) has,” said Powell.

Coun. Leanne Salter spoke in favour of wood burning in general, raising the issue of costs for financially-challenged residents who cannot afford other sources of heat like hydro or fossil fuels. She also said wood is a renewable resource and “fossil fuels are not renewable.”

The bylaw, in its current form, has a host of restrictions related to the burning of solid fuel like wood. In addition to the provisions around standards (CSA or EPA) for future installations, the bylaw states that all new construction that includes a solid fuel burning appliance shall also contain another form of space heating, such as natural gas, propane, electric or solar.

The bylaw also prohibits the burning of unseasoned or wet wood and any kind of burning when an air quality advisory has been issued in Parksville or adjacent electoral areas. Anyone who contravenes any provisions of the bylaw could face a fine of up to $10,000.

Mayor Marc Lefebvre questioned how the city could enforce some of the bylaw’s provisions.

“It’s extremely difficult to enter anyone’s home,” he said. “You need a court order.”

Coun. Kirk Oates spoke passionately about the issue at a meeting last month, at one point suggesting anyone who wants to burn wood can move to the regional district. He was less vocal on Monday night, but he did wonder why staff did not put a total ban in the draft bylaw’s language.

“That option, for some reason, wasn’t considered at all,” said Oates.

The bylaw still requires final adoption at a future council meeting.

• Council also gave three readings to a bylaw that will amend the current outdoor burning bylaw. If adopted, this new bylaw will prohibit the burning of general and agricultural clearing waste in the city, although the rules are different in Agricultural Land Reserve properties within the city. The new bylaw will not ban firepits or campfires in the backyards of the city.

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