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qathet Regional District board will vote on further study of wood burning issue

Woodstove report to be considered
WANTS STUDY: qathet Regional District Electoral Area A director and board chair Patrick Brabazon made a motion for a staff report on the regional district’s options around woodstoves at a committee of the whole meeting.

qathet Regional District’s (qRD) board of directors will consider tasking staff to research and write a report on its options regarding the use of woodstoves in the electoral areas.

At the August 12 committee of the whole meeting, directors considered correspondence from Lisa Morrow regarding the prospect of regional governments regulating woodstoves. Electoral Area A director and board chair Patrick Brabazon moved receipt of the correspondence.

Brabazon said regional district directors have had discussions in the past about what receiving a piece of correspondence implies, and he has maintained consistently that receipt is simply an acknowledgement to the writer that the letter has been received.

“In this particular case, we have a letter that is a direct attack upon myself, by accusing me of being not entirely truthful or informed, however, I will still move to receive the letter as an acknowledgment that we have received it without further comment on the contents,” said Brabazon.

The committee voted unanimously in favour of receiving the correspondence.

Chief administrative officer Al Radke said he was wondering if the committee wanted to entertain a report from staff.

Brabazon said he would make a second motion. He said he suggested a report from staff on what the regional district’s options are.

Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said he was confused by the motion.

“What is the motion?” asked Gisborne.

Brabazon said the writer of the correspondence, Morrow, had raised several questions over the past few months regarding what the regional district’s options are, and why the regional district hasn’t shut down woodburning stoves. Brabazon said the letter specifically states or implies that the regional district hasn’t done things it can do.

“I’m not sure what we can do with regard to her concerns,” said Brabazon. “So, what are our options? That is the motion.”

Gisborne said the motion had been clarified and that he didn’t want to assume anything.

“I’ve been thinking about it,” said Gisborne. “It’s something we could potentially do, however, we would probably need a great deal more enforcement, building permits and other regulations to tell a property owner no, you can’t have a woodstove, or if you are building a new building, you can’t put in a woodstove.

“We don’t have building permits and we don’t have a lot of those extra regulations. I don’t want to use staff time to come back with a report. Even if we could ban wood burning stoves in the electoral areas of the regional district.”

Points of order

Radke called a point of order and said the motion was to refer a report to staff, and the dialogue was not having anything to do with the report.

Gisborne called a point of order and said Radke was not a member of the assembly, so he was not able to call a point of order.

Electoral Area D director and committee chair Sandy McCormick said city director George Doubt had called a point of order.

Doubt said the motion on the floor was to ask staff for a report about woodstoves. He said he thought that is what the committee should be debating rather than what a response to the report should be.

“I’m in favour of asking staff for a report, then we can read the report on what the board could do and make decisions about what the board wishes to do after we’ve got that report,” said Doubt.

Electoral Area E director Andrew Fall said he appreciates Morrow’s concerns about air quality and human health, and there are lots of things the regional district could do, but may or may not choose to do. He said having a report was the most appropriate step and that possibilities may vary across the regional district. 

Fall said on Lasqueti Island, he believes every home relies on woodstoves because there is no electric grid. He said he supports reduction of emissions through cleaner-burning stoves.

Electoral Area C director Clay Brander said he understood Morrow’s concerns but he didn’t believe there would be sufficient public support for the banning of woodstoves or backyard burning.

“I hate to task staff with a report,” said Brander. “They are very busy. The qRD already supports the woodstove exchange program.”

Motion carries

The committee carried a motion to recommend to the regional board that staff bring back a report on options regarding the woodburning stove issue. The committee carried the motion, with Gisborne and Brander opposed.

Morrow, in her correspondence, stated that after a lengthy interchange with qRD, her concerns were placed on the July 15 committee of the whole meeting. She stated her concerns were falsely dismissed and not addressed.

Morrow wrote that Brabazon had stated at the meeting that several of the issues raised were concerning federal or provincial jurisdiction, and that she thought Brabazon’s statement was incorrect and uninformed. Morrow stated that she received correspondence from the ministry of environment and climate change that clearly states local governments can regulate wood smoke and burning.