Province agrees to town’s call for a review of PM 2.5 emissions

Tue, 16 Nov 2010

The Town of Oakville's efforts to improve air quality in the Oakville-Clarkson Airshed received a big boost yesterday when the town received notice from the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) that, as a result of the town’s Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) application, the province will be undertaking a review of how it regulates emissions of fine particulate matter, specifically PM 2.5.

“This is wonderful news for our community. Council is very pleased that the province has recognized the need to protect public health from PM2.5,” Mayor Rob Burton said.  “Neither the provincial nor federal government has regulations that assess the cumulative impacts of fine PM emissions within an airshed and we hope the review will address this gap.”

The Town of Oakville filed an application with the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Gord Miller, early this year asking the government to institute a new regulation under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA), or a new air pollution act if need be, that effectively regulates the emissions of airborne fine PM to protect communities from adverse health effects.

According to the province, recent air quality measurements show that the levels of fine particulate pollution in Ontario have decreased.  Nonetheless the province acknowledged in its decision that there may be a gap with respect to regulations of domestic sources of primary PM2.5. The province said it is committed to continuing to improve air quality by undertaking the review to make sure the policies for managing air quality are based on the most up-to-date science and the best information possible.

“I spoke with the Honourable John Wilkinson, Minister of the Environment, last night to congratulate him on this important step forward,” Mayor Burton said. “I also want to thank C4CA and the many schools, residents’ associations and individuals, as well as our neighbouring municipalities, who wrote to the province to support the town’s EBR application. We look forward to participating in the review process. ” 

The province anticipates that a thorough review will take approximately 15 to 18 months and will include analyzing air monitoring data, reviewing health literature and looking at other jurisdictions to make sure the province’s approach is effective and provides a high level of protection for Ontarians.  The province will also be consulting with key stakeholders during the review, including public health professionals, municipalities, community stakeholders and businesses.

In February 2010, Council passed the first by-law in Canada that would help protect residents from the negative health effects of fine PM.  The town has also taken steps to minimize emissions through the Sustainable Green Fleet program, enacting an anti-idling by-law, restricting the development of drive-thrus, and enhancing public transit. The town’s Livable Oakville official plan supports the development of sustainable neighbourhoods with reduced vehicular traffic, green roofs, energy conservation features and opportunities for alternative energy production.

For more information

Cindy Toth
Director, Environmental Policy
Town of Oakville
905-845-6601, ext. 3299
ctoth@oakville.ca