The Town of Smithers has added additional money to the provincial wood stove exchange program.
Participants in the provincial program can receive a rebate of $250 or $400 but residents of Smithers can receive up to $750 or $1,500 for taking part in the program offered by the Town. That means Smithereens can save up to $1,900 each.
“Wood smoke is a public health issue and a serious concern for this council,” said Smithers councillor Greg Brown. “The rebate program is a way for the Town to assist individual households in meeting one of our common goals.”
Wood smoke is a known source of fine particulate matter, PM2.5, which is microscopic airborne solid or liquid matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less.
PM2.5 is small enough to get into the lungs and bloodstream. This leads to blood clotting and the inflammation of blood vessels which makes it one of the prime factors leading to heart attacks.
Young children, the elderly and people with asthma or other chronic illness are at risk when there is a high concentration level of PM2.5 in the air. Air quality advisories occured several times in Smithers last summer due to concentrations of forest fire smoke and dust, and occur in winter mostly due to smoke that comes from homes heated by wood stoves.
“I can see and feel the effects of poor air quality and I am concerned about the effects on my kids,” said Bulkley Valley Lakes District Airshed Management Society member Sue Brooks. “So I would like to be able to help out and improve the situation.”
In order to qualify for additional money homeowners must live within the Town of Smithers boundaries, the old appliance must be uncertified and recycled or decommissioned with proof of this provided.
The new appliance must be an EPA certified wood appliance, or use a different form of heat like natural gas or electric, and must be installed with proof provided.
Old wood stoves can be recycled at a dealer in town or at the Town of Smithers works yard. Residents will be given a form they must fill out and send to the Ministry of Environment building on Alfred Avenue along with an invoice of their purchase.
The form and invoice can be mailed to the Ministry to the attention of Benjamin Weinstein or dropped off in person. Homeowners can also email a copy of their form and invoice to Brooks at email@example.com.
Once the form is received it will take about a month for the rebate to be mailed out. Residents will receive $750 for exchanging a wood stove that is a secondary source of heat and $1,500 for a wood stove that is the primary source of heat in their home.
“One of the barriers to upgrading your [wood stove] is the cost,” said Brown. “This rebate is to encourage people to take a serious look at upgrading their [wood stoves].”
The Town will be investing up to $15,000 into the program.
On Feb. 3 the airshed society will be hosting an “air quality block party” at Goat Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Old and new wood stoves will be used in order to show residents the differences in burn quality between them.
Dealers will also be on hand with information about the latest products. The society will give out information regarding air quality and volunteer firefighters will also be in attendance to talk about the connection between smart wood burning and fire safety.