Prince George, BC – April 26, 2018 The Prince George Air Improvement Roundtable (PGAIR) today released the final report on Phase 3 of its Air Quality Management Plan (Phase 3 Implementation Plan), which evaluates actions and strategies across multiple sectors to reduce fine particulate matter in the Prince George airshed.
The Phase 3 Final Report finds that progress toward community air quality goals set by PGAIR in 2011 has been steady and measurable. Levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) – tiny particles in the air posing a risk to human health – declined 40% from industrial sources from 2011-2016 and a downward trend in average concentrations community-wide is seen, which supports long-term targets. Much remains to be done, however, including a review of mitigation strategies for unmanageable sources of pollutants, such as wildfire smoke, and further reductions in residential, commercial and transportation emissions.
“The City of Prince George is pleased with the significant progress made by PGAIR to improve air quality in Prince George,” said Mayor Lyn Hall. “The City has worked diligently to improve our airshed and achieve the goals of PGAIR through initiatives and activities such as the Clean Air Bylaw and our sweeping operations, which are currently underway 24-hours a day. While Council highly commends the ongoing work of the Roundtable, we realize that this work is not yet complete, and we will continue to work to achieve all of Council’s environmental goals. As residents, we all play a part in bettering air quality and I encourage citizens to consider ways we can all work to improve the air we breathe.”
PGAIR Executive Director Terry Robert said significant reductions in levels of fine particulate matter were achieved through technological improvements in industries with Provincial permits in the northeast sector and through dust management strategies in the City of Prince George and Fraser Fort George Regional District.
“The results of the Phase 3 report are encouraging and it’s good to see leadership on air quality emerge in many sectors,” says Robert. “Still, we know more is needed to meet community targets, especially given the additional impacts of wildfire smoke we’ve seen in recent years."
Adam Lancaster, Environment Manager for Canfor Pulp Ltd. and PGAIR member said Canfor Pulp is proud to be a large contributor in the march toward PGAIR’s Phase III goals. “Through significant capital investment, we have proven that strengthening our position in the marketplace can work in parallel with improved environmental performance,” Lancaster said. “As our strongest gains in particulate discharge have been made, we encourage all sectors to continue with incremental reductions as we shift our focus to other air quality and environmental improvements.”
PGAIR’s Phase 3 Management Plan goals reflect our collective understanding of the impacts of air pollution on public health. Overwhelming scientific evidence points to elevated rates of cardiovascular disease, and other illnesses or death linked to high levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air we breathe. “I’m pleased to see continued success resulting from the work of PGAIR and its partners. These improvements to air quality should be celebrated and will positively impact the health of everyone in our community,” said Dr. Andrew Gray, Northern Interior Medical Health Officer, Northern Health Authority.