As we went to press yesterday, the air quality at the BC Rail Industrial site was rated as poor. The air quality index reading was 53. Zero is good, 100 is very poor. The air quality index at Plaza 400 was rated as fair, with a reading of 49. Once it gets to 50 it qualifies as poor. The odour index at Plaza 400, however, was only at 16. An odour index of 26 or greater indicates that reduced sulphur compounds are present in a total concentration greater than the “desirable” provincial ambient level. One of the problems with the human nose is that it is very sensitive to sulphur. It doesn’t take much to stink things up.
As we went to press yesterday, the air quality indexes in other areas of the city were rated as good.
It was, probably, an average day.
On Wednesday, the People’s Action Committee for Health Air Clean Air Day, it was probably about the same.
Not an overwhelming clean air day for us.
Are we getting there?
As PACHA points out, it has taken the citizenry of the city to get up in arms over this issue for anything to happen. For years, it was tolerated. The cost of doing business. The smell of money. We all know the story.
Only now we, the citizens, are realizing that it doesn’t have to be that way. As PACHA points out, it takes the will of the people to enact change and it takes the political will to enact change. Sadly, the former is required for the latter to occur.
But changes are being made slowly.
Asphalt regulations have been put in place in Prince George that have made a difference for the residents of North Nechako.
Politicians are paying attention to the issue. It was one of the main issues in last fall’s municipal election. However, it wasn’t a huge one during the provincial election. That doesn’t mean the province isn’t aware of the issue. PACHA says both industry and the Ministry of Environment take this issue more seriously and are taking steps towards the implementation of better technology on industrial sites of emissions. PACHA feels government is paying more attention to the issue now that Northern Health is taking it more seriously. It’s certainly heartening to see that government is taking the issue more seriously. And, as PACHA president Dave Fuller points out, significant change won’t happen overnight. It will take time to significantly improve air quality in Prince George. And it will take continued pressure from the public and PACHA to ensure change does happen.
Kudos to PACHA for keeping this issue front and centre in Prince George. It does take political will to enact change and political will stems from the will of the public. We have a goal of clean air in Prince George and we cannot afford to let our sights waver from that goal.
And, we should ask ourselves today, and every day, “what did we do today to improve air quality in Prince George?”