Air Quality And What Abbotsford Can Do About It – UPDATED

By Ken Wuschke. Call me old school, but I was raised to not blame others when I can help solve the problem at hand. And that’s how I feel about the FVRD and the City of Abbotsford are towards Metro Vancouver incinerator plans.


Ok, we have little say if the incinerator goes ahead with it or not as Abbotsford is not a part of Metro Vancouver. Not what I want, but that is the present system.  But we can continue to voice our concern about the incinerator’s potential impact on air quality and health issues for people living in Abbotsford.


Regardless of the incinerator coming online or not, we still have air quality issues throughout the Fraser Valley. Right now with the 30° Celsius days there are air quality warnings being issued.


Presently Metro Vancouver is saying the biggest factor affecting the Fraser Valley’s airshed is “high concentrations of ground-level ozone”. According to the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency the most significant contributor to ground-level-ozone is motor vehicle emissions. In many metro areas car exhaust contributes about 56% towards ground-level-ozone.


So what was the reaction from the FVRD? Well the FVRD released a twitter message without giving any advice on how people could be reducing our smog levels.  This was after it re-tweeted yesterday a message from Environment ReportingBC.


Meanwhile Metro Vancouver sent out a press release recommending reducing motor vehicle trips, limit idling, and trying transit or car-pooling. All in effort to give you – the person affected by ground-level-ozone – possible options to help reduce our smog levels. (see attached PDF)


I appreciate Metro for giving advice. It seems to be better than the FVRD’s approach. At least Metro is letting us know there are steps each of us can do to lower down our ground-level-ozone. However, few in Abbotsford can actually do this.

This is an update on air quality in the Fraser Valley and electric vehicle charging stations.

Today I was speaking with City of Abbotsford staff and they updated me on theCommunity Sustainability Planning Initiative (CSPI) which includes electric vehicle charging stations.

As many others in the community believed, I thought the CSPI was dead. Just another report council commissioned only to be shelved and collect dust.

This is incorrect.

On Monday, July 21st the City of Abbotsford Council will look at an implementation plan based on the CSPI.

Now in typical City of Abbotsford openness, it is unlikely the public will be able to see the report until this Friday. And the deadline to speak either for or against the CSPI at the council meeting was today – Wednesday at noon.
So, sorry folks we have missed our chance to support or be against a report that you cannot read for another two days.

However, the bright news is that our City Council will be looking at implementing sustainable initiatives. It just seems our community is not a part of that discussion before City Council.

The reason is simple. Our city councils rarely make land use decisions that help lower our community’s dependence on motor vehicles. And often the decision makers ignore staff recommendations to help you the ratepayer make choices that reduce pollution entering into our airshed.

We need to look at Abbotsford’s contribution towards adding pollution in the confined Fraser Valley / Nooksack Basin airshed. And I feel there needs to be a two-prong approach to help us achieve a standard of air quality that is acceptable to everyone.


First off the City of Abbotsford does not have an electric vehicle charging station policy in place. It is currently up to the individual developers to make this option available, not council creating a policy that says something like “for new condo projects that have 15 or more units there will be one electric vehicle charging station.”


And while the FVRD and City of Abbotsford are fighting Metro Vancouver on an incinerator being built, do we have an electric vehicle charging station at the Abbotsford City Hall? No we don’t.


However, Langley City Hall has one. Langley Township Hall has one. Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Surrey, New Westminster, Burnaby, Richmond, Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, City of North Vancouver, and the list keeps going. Even Chilliwack and Hope have electric vehicle charging stations at their city halls. And interestingly enough Metro Vancouver’s offices have electric vehicle charging stations.


Again call me old-school, but I believe in putting your money where your mouth is. So the City of Abbotsford rails on justifiably about a Metro Vancouver garbage incinerator but has done little or nothing to support electric vehicle charging stations at our city hall, libraries, rec centres, and other municipal facilities.


Yes, there is an electric vehicle charging station at the Abbotsford Community library. But these are old style 110 volt stations that take eight to ten times longer to charge an electric vehicle battery. In addition you can only access them when the school office is open. That means during July and August and weekends throughout the year the public can’t plug in.


Yes, there are electric vehicle charging stations at UFV, High Street Mall, North Parallel Mall, and a handful of other places. However, the question I have for the Abbotsford City Council is while you are complaining about Metro Vancouver polluting our air quality, what are you doing to help out the people of Abbotsford to operate electric vehicles?


The other thing the City of Abbotsford council can champion is a joint Fraser Valley / Nooksack Basin Airshed Board. Why involve Washington State? Simple, approximately 20% to 25% of our air quality issues come from Whatcom County. The oil refineries at Cherry Point are major contributors to what we breathe here.


And the standard we go by is simple. We work towards Hope having the best air quality possible. Rather than neglecting Hope, Agassiz, and Chilliwack on days like this, make it that Metro Vancouver, the FVRD, and Whatcom Council of Governments must develop land use and pollution emission policies that everyone in the Fraser Valley / Nooksack Basin airshed benefits from.


Yes, this will take years of work to make it happen. But what the residents of Abbotsford need right now are people on city council who are willing to put the rhetoric aside and actually work by making actions really happen.


Let’s walk the talk so that we can breathe the air.


 Ken Wuschke
Ken Wuschke

Believing in community, Ken has been involved in several non-profits in Abbotsford since arriving here four years ago. He wants to build a strong community with focusing developing places where people want to be. From planning bicycle routes to creating social and cultural hubs, Ken wants a stronger Abbotsford that is ready for the future.

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