Message from the Williams Lake Air Quality Roundtable Chair, Bert Groenenberg
Air quality is a human health issue. The worse the air quality is, the more our health is affected. Thorough scientific research over many years confirms that bad air affects not only the lungs but also the heart and can even result in premature death.
Improving air quality improves our health. The purpose of the Round Table is to work together to improve the air quality.
Williams Lake used to have one of the worst air quality problems in the province. Because Williams Lake is located in a valley, air pollution tends to stay in the valley, especially during inversions which are common in winter months.
After the beehive burners were phased out in the early 1990s, our air has been much cleaner. But there was still much room for improvement, especially for reducing fine particulates that go deep into our lungs.
In the mid 1990s, representatives from industry, business, local government and the non-government sector came together and formed the Williams Lake Air Quality Committee. In 1999, BC Environment joined and formed the Williams Lake Air Quality Round Table. (A similar Round Table was formed in Quesnel.)
After formation, funding for both Round Tables and the technical work came from the Cariboo Regional District, the City of Williams, the Government of Canada and provincial agencies including BC Environment.
By 1996, the technical work was done and a plan was in place. (The full plan is available here.) Page 6 of the plan shows the goal was to improve particulate matter of 10 micrograms in size (PM10) from over 50 per cubic metre to 50 by 2009. Also by 2009, the particulate of 2.5 micrograms in size (PM 2.5) will be reduced to 20 from just under 30. Both goals were met.
By 2012, the goal is to reduce PM10 to 40 micrograms per cubic metre and PM 2.5 to 18.
To improve air quality it takes much thought, planning and money to take the actions. Among the major improvements were emissions from West Fraser Plywood, reduced road track-out and clean-up from mill sites.
The Round Table does not have the authority to force any changes; that is for the governing agencies to do. The Williams Lake Air Quality Round Table meets once or twice a year at City Hall to encourage progress in cleaner air. Minutes from these meetings are available on our downloads page.
We encourage all citizens at home, at work and at play to do their part in improving our health by reducing pollution. This website suggests some ways you can do this.