Regional district directors attempted to clear up lingering issues surrounding the smoke control bylaw when it came before the regular meeting of the board on September 20.
Area “A” Director Mark Pendergraft declared his non support for an endorsement of a recommendation brought forward from the Environment and Infrastructure Committee’s September 6 meeting, saying he couldn’t support it in its present form because his constituents living above the valley floor had no issues with smoke.
Oliver rural Director Allan Patton asked if the bylaw could specifically exempt Anarchist Mountain,but Pendergraft replied that his constituents were pretty much unanimous in their rejection of the bylaw.
Other director’s comments noted the complexity of the smoke control issue, while others noted that the air in the Okanagan and Simillkameen valleys had improved considerably in the past two decades, and further efforts to improve the air shouldn’t be neglected.
Area “G” Director Angelique Wood felt that it was fair to ask residents to engage in proper burning practices, noting that the bylaw wasn’t trying to eliminate burning, rather to get residents to burn properly.
Osoyoos Director Wells felt that the board was heading in the wrong direction with the bylaw, noting that although the air in the valley was common to all, it wasn’t likely that bylaw enforcement would be able to walk into residents’ houses in order to check on the their burning habits.
“I agree something has to be done, the air is common, but I think rather than have a bylaw officer knocking on someone’s door, we maybe we should have an information person out there, talking to those individuals who are violating – a ‘good neighbour policy’ – that’s what we should be talking about.”
Pendergraft agreed that it was better to educate rather than regulate, with Wells responding that there had to be science behind any smoke legislation.
West Bench Director Michael Brydon commented that a program similar to West Bench’s Water Ambassador program might be utilized effectively in this instance.
Area “D” Director Tom Siddon told the board that there needed to be some way to ensure the regional district had “teeth” on a compliance basis.
The board agreed to amend the original motion – which stipulated that a $10,000 grant from the province would be used for enforcement purposes – to include education as an additional use for the funding.The recommendation will return to the board for third reading as amended prior to being sent out to the various jurisdictions for consent prior to returning to the board for final adoption.