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Oakville passes air quality bylaw

February 4, 2010

(Source: Oakville Beaver )

A new bylaw aimed at making Oakville’s air easier to breathe has received unanimous approval from local politicians.

Under the new rules, Town councillors will have the right to reject incoming new industries judged to be major emitters of pollutants that cause unacceptable health impacts. The Town will also be able to deem existing industries and facilities that are major pollution emitters as “public nuisances” and refuse them approval to continue to operate unless they cut emissions.

However, the Town did modify the bylaw slightly as a result of a meeting last month that saw business representatives soundly criticize the proposal.

The approved bylaw will now require all facilities that emit fine particulate matter (airborne particles less than 2.5 microns in size), or other pollutants, which produce fine particulate matter, to make a one-time report of emission levels to the Town.

Existing facilities that agree to develop a five-year plan leading to a 25 per cent reduction in emissions will be given approval to continue to operate. Those that do not agree to a reduction plan will need to convince Town council that there is a public interest in allowing them to continue to operate despite their emissions.

Town staff estimate there are probably 10 or 15 facilities in town likely to be classified as major emitters.

Consultant Rodney Northey, an environmental law specialist hired to advise the Town, noted that those companies will already be collecting emissions data and dealing with approval processes.

“There should be no surprises to a major emitter because they are already reporting under NPRI,” he noted.

John Sawyer, president of Oakville Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber supports initiatives to improve air quality and air quality standards, but doesn’t believe the Town should be doing the regulation.

“We’re not in support of municipal regulation of the airshed,” he told councillors. “This type of regulation should be mandated by the province in a process that would affect all jurisdictions equally.”

Sawyer suggested the new bylaw will be expensive for businesses and ineffective in reducing air pollution. He is also afraid it will put Oakville companies at a competitive disadvantage, create an uncertain business climate and make it difficult to attract new companies to town.

“You want to catch a large tuna, but you’ll kill a lot of dolphins in the process,” he said, in what appeared to be an oblique reference to Town council’s ongoing battle to keep TransCanada’s proposed gas-fired power plant out of Oakville.

Fine particulate matter is currently regulated at the provincial level in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland, as well as in all American states.

“We can’t rest on our laurels with this because this is only one small tool in a very large toolbox to deal with our toxic airshed,” said Ward 5 councillor Jeff Knoll. “This is a much bigger problem than we can solve on our own.”

Read the full article “Oakville passes air quality bylaw” in the Oakville Beaver (February 2, 2010)

Ryan Chelak is a real estate broker in Oakville & Mississauga andlongtime Oakville resident. Subscribe to my blog to keep up to date on local news, information, events and of course everything you want to know about Oakville real estate.

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