B.C. Air Quality

Airshed Planning in B.C.

Airshed planning is a crucial part of the B.C. government’s work to improve air quality through partnerships with communities and other stakeholders in the airshed. An airshed plan provides a blueprint to help communities manage development and control air-contaminant sources. The process is stakeholder driven and recognizes that every one of us has a role to play in keeping our air and our communities clean. Airshed plans are also key to meeting B.C.’s obligations under the Canada-wide Standards for Particulate Matter and Ozone.  

At present, 13 airshed management plans are near completion or fully adopted in the province. Areas covered include: Whistler, the Sea-to-Sky Airshed, Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley Regional District, Merritt, the Regional Districts of Okanagan-Similkameen, Central Okanagan and North Okanagan (three different plans), Grand Forks, Williams Lake, Quesnel, Prince George and the Bulkley Valley-Lakes District. A strategy has also been developed to address transboundary air-quality issues in the Georgia Basin / Puget Sound Airshed. For more details, see Air Quality Management Plans in B.C.

Partnerships are crucial to airshed planning and can take many different shapes and forms from place to place. For example, in developing its plan, Quesnel used a single roundtable of stakeholders drawn from local and provincial government, industry, health agencies, and environmental and community groups. In the Bulkley Valley-Lakes District, which covers a much larger area, a more complex partnership was struck, including one regional and four community working groups reporting to a multistakeholder committee.

Under the B.C. Air Action Plan, the B.C. government will continue to work with communities to improve air quality, through key actions such as the following:

Smart Planning for Communities
This $15 million, five-year initiative will support local governments in their efforts to plan for clean, sustainable and livable communities. It will bring together issues that are often dealt with separately — simultaneously addressing local air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.

Provincial Framework for Airshed Planning
The Ministry of Environment has developed a framework designed to guide the development of airshed plans in British Columbia. The Provincial Framework for Airshed Planning (PDF: 642 KB/43 pages) is meant to encourage more consistency and efficiency in airshed planning, and work towards implementing the Canada-wide Standards for Particulate Matter and Ozone.

As an important step in creating the Provincial Framework for Airshed Planning, the Ministry of Environment sponsored stakeholder consultations in 2006. This process generated three reports, which provided an important basis for the final framework document:

Air Quality Planning Tool
This online planning tool walks users through the typical steps involved in an air-quality-management planning process, pointing to sources of additional information and guidance along the way. It can help users decide whether a full-scale air-quality-management plan can or should be undertaken, or whether to pursue a streamlined planning process.

Clean Air Toolkit
The Clean Air Toolkit is designed to help local government develop emissions reduction programs in their community.

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