(COMOX VALLEY, BC) – Following the continuation of multiple bans in the Comox Valley on the installation of wood-burning appliances, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada (HPBAC) is again requesting a meeting with local decision-makers in the City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, and Village of Cumberland to discuss a new process for engagement between decision-makers and local industry representatives. HPBAC and the local wood-burning appliance industry are supportive of effective regulation that promotes better air quality; however, the industry wants to see meaningful engagement with all parties impacted. 

“HPBAC has worked with other municipalities, including Metro Vancouver, to develop policy in a similar situation which was informed by all stakeholders,” said Laura Litchfield, President of HPBAC. “HPBAC hopes municipalities in the Comox Valley will consider modifying the bans and allow regulation to be more results-oriented and reflective of the best interests of residents and the local industry.”

HPBAC notes that the current bans of wood-burning appliances in new homes prevent the use of wood-burning as a primary and backup heat source and results in an increase in home heating costs for residents. The bans also unnecessarily impact workers, retailers, and manufacturers. There are seven hearth appliance manufacturers in British Columbia, 3,000 direct jobs, and additional indirect jobs. Furthermore, bans inappropriately suggest the use of modern certified wood-burning appliances is inconsistent with the pursuit of air quality improvements and climate change adaptation when evidence proves this to be incorrect. 

“Residents and consumers who use wood-burning appliances have long recognized the importance of protecting Canada’s precious natural resources, improving air quality, and reversing the effects of climate change,” said Ms. Litchfield. “For this reason, the hearth industry in Canada has been hard at work making products that use less fuel to supply heat, with extremely low levels of emission, and at a fraction of the cost of other heating methods. Modern certified wood stoves are an efficient heating appliance.” 

HPBAC and its members strive to work closely with decision-makers and regulatory partners to develop progressive, evidence-based policy. Despite sustained efforts to ensure this happened in Comox Valley, regional and municipal decision-makers have not adequately considered alternative policy levers that would positively impact air quality and carbon emissions.

Chris Bowen of Pioneer Fireplace has been attempting to work with the Village of Cumberland and the City of Courtenay but met significant resistance. “The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) started the Airshed Roundtable Project to study air quality in the Comox Valley and to implement a Regional Airshed Protection Strategy, yet the bans were put in place before members of the roundtable could even bring forward recommendations,” said Mr. Bowen.

Comox Valley resident and local business owner, Jamie Payne, frustrated by a lack of willingness by decision-makers to listen, said the “bans are jeopardizing my business and investment for no legitimate reason. They are unjustified, misplaced and will not do anything to help local air quality.” 

Ms. Litchfield urges consideration and acceptance of the representations from the wood-burning appliance industry. “The fact that a report published by Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) has been cited by the media is just one example of how misinformation relating to the effectiveness of modern certified wood-burning finds its way into  policy processes.” 

HPBAC is requesting a way to replace uncertified older model stoves with modern and low emitting certified appliances be adopted. Many communities in Canada and the U.S. have implemented successful woodstove changeout programs, including many in B.C. This solution would address the issue without the need for a ban on the installation of wood-burning appliances.

For more information, please visit www.overturntheban.ca.

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada (HPBAC) is the national not-for-profit association representing businesses that produce, sell, or service appliances and accessories in Canada’s hearth and barbecue industries. HPBAC gives consumers an overview of the hearth, patio and barbecue industry and provides the information needed to help Canadians make the right choice for their home.

For more information, please contact:
Jeff Loder
Director of Public Affairs, HPBAC