The chair of the Comox Valley Regional District’s (CVRD) electoral area services committee wants to take a second look at the proposed ban of beach fires at Goose Spit, in order to better understand how to improve management of potentially harmful emissions from that source, as well as to consider other things that could work to improve air quality in the Comox Valley.

“The beach fire program implemented by the CVRD a year ago has made great strides in improving the experience of enjoying Goose Spit,” said Jim Gillis. “In the past the beach used to be littered with burned driftwood. People burned all kinds of material that produced extremely harmful emissions, and they burned in unsafe areas close to the bluffs. The CVRD’s program of providing fire rings, selling appropriate wood, monitoring and enforcement on the site by a park steward, and general public education, has gone a long way to making the situation better, and I want to see if there is a way to further improve it, and to look at other things within the CVRD’s control that can have a positive effect on our air quality.”

A year-long air quality monitoring project by the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) and the University of Victoria showed that while the air quality in the Comox Valley isn’t bad, there are areas of concern in terms of particulate matter generated by fires, and at certain times, Goose Spit is one of them. The CVRD will be asking the area’s medical health officer to attend a future electoral area services committee to discuss air quality and the effects wood burning can have.

“There has been a great deal of public comment on the recommendation to ban fires at Goose Spit, and CVRD staff have been monitoring that comment,” said Gillis. “I, and my colleagues on the board, want to look further at some of the very helpful suggestions on how we can balance enjoyment of our region without compromising our health. We will need to look at how we can perhaps further enhance the beach fire program, as well as look at things like a wood stove exchange programs and outdoor burning in the electoral areas.”

The committee will consider the earlier recommendation to ban the beach fires, and possible alternatives, at its meeting on February 15.

The Comox Valley Regional District is a federation of three electoral areas and three municipalities providing sustainable services for residents and visitors to the area. The members of the regional district work collaboratively on services for the benefit of the diverse urban and rural areas of the Comox Valley.