Minister of environment denies request to re-establish air quality monitoring station in Revelstoke

Concerns over air quality arose over number of people being sent to Revelstoke for reprieve from forest fires during summer of 2017.

An undated image of the 2017 Galena Bay wildfire. Photo: BC Wildfire Service

BC’s minister of environment has turned down the City of Revelstoke’s request to re-install an air quality monitoring system in the city.

Revelstoke city council passed a resolution during the regular meeting on May 22, 2018 to send a letter to the provincial Ministry of Environment and Climate Change requesting the air-quality monitoring system be re-established due to the increasing prevalence of forest fires and climate change.

Mayor Mark McKee sent a letter to minister of environment George Heyman on May 24, 2018. In the letter McKee noted the city’s health advisory committee had concerns about the lack of air quality monitoring due to the number of people being sent to Revelstoke for reprieve from the forest fires during the summer of 2017.

“Health officials were not able determine if Revelstoke was even a safe environment for these people,” McKee said in the letter.

In response Heyman said while he appreciates and shares the city’s concerns regarding air quality in Revelstoke the ministry has no plans to re-establish an air quality monitoring system in the city at this time.

“In order to optimize resource allocation, ministry staff use satellite data and output from smoke forecast models in conjunction with other available information to issue Smoky Skies Bulletins for communities impacted by wildfire smoke that do not have air quality monitoring stations,” Heyman said in an email dated July 30, 2018. 

Heyman said the bulletins are issued in collaboration with pertinent health authorities which allows the ministry to communicate health risks associated with wildfire smoke to communities at risk.

Revelstoke city council will have a chance to discuss the minister’s response, and denial, to the request for re-establishing an air quality monitoring station at the regular council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 14.