Woodstove exchange program aims to reduce emissions

The RDCK is working with the B.C. Lung Association to encourage people to exchange their old wood stoves.

Since 2009, the Regional District of Central Kootenays (RDCK) has been working in partnership with the B.C. Lung Association to help RDCK residents reduce emissions by exchanging their old wood stoves.

Normally, the RDCK offers the exchange on 100 stoves. This year, that number was reduced to 66.

“We get our funding from the province,” said Nicole Ward, environmental services coordinator at the RDCK. “We put in an application for 100 stoves, and the province gets applications from all the regional districts and municipalities, and then they dole out the amount of money they have to the communities based on the availability, we guess.”

According to the Ministry of Environment, smoke from older, higher polluting wood stoves in combination with the cold, still nights of winter, has a significant impact on air quality.

When a new stove is purchased and an older one is retired, the owner gets a $350 rebate. $250 of the rebate comes from the B.C. Lung Association. The other $100 comes from either the RDCK or the municipality, depending on the applicants’ address.

“It’s all about improving the air quality, and getting the old stoves that are less efficient, that are not as clean burning out of circulation, and then replacing them with a more efficient wood stove,” said Ward.

In order to qualify, a resident doesn’t have to explicitly buy a new wood burning stove. The new heating system could also be a pellet stove, or a natural gas stove, as long as it is approved by the Canadian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),which means it meets all the certifications of all the air quality requirements. Most stoves today are EPA approved.

Last year, grants for ten stoves were offered in the Nakusp area, but in the last few years, only two or three residents have taken part in the program.

“You can’t force anyone into doing it, but we offer it,” said Karen Hamling, mayor of Nakusp. “If your stove is an old one and is producing a lot of emissions, it’s nice if you could take part in that.”

Hamling thinks the program is a great idea.

“We’re all trying to do our best for climate control, I think it’s an important thing to consider.” she said.

Ward agrees.

“I think it’s a great opportunity, especially in this area, to improve air quality. If you’re looking to replace your stove, what better opportunity than to get some grant funding to help you along.”