Note: this story was contributed by Evan Smith & Tracey Dennis, Village of Valemount
Air quality issues are an ongoing concern in the Village of Valemount, and have become a major focus of conversation within the community. Since a particulate matter monitoring station was installed in 2016, wood-burning appliances have been found to be a major source of particulate matter within the community.
The Clean Air Task Force
The Village of Valemount Clean Air Task Force was established in 2018 to explore options to improve air quality in the community. Through education and awareness, the Task Force focuses on four main areas:
- Residential wood-burning
- Open-air burning
- Dust management
- Vehicle idling
Several Burn it Smart workshops have also been hosted over the years. Burn it Smart is an education program originally developed by Natural Resources Canada. The goal is to provide practical advice on how to operate and maintain a woodstove to minimize the amount of smoke produced while using it.
Improving air quality through the Wood Stove Exchange Program
The Village of Valemount has seen great success with the implementation of its Wood Stove Exchange Program. The program provides rebates and incentives for residents within municipal boundaries to replace old, polluting wood-burning appliances with efficient, alternative forms of heating, such as electric heat pumps, propane or pellet stoves, or CSA/EPA-certified wood-burning appliances. 2021 saw an increase in program participation with over seven approved exchanges, compared to two exchanges during 2020.
Rebates from the Valemount Wood Stove Exchange Program
The Valemount Wood Stove Exchange program offers the following rebates:
- $300 for cleaner burning wood stoves (wood‐to‐wood exchange)
- $750 for cleaner heating alternatives such as electric, propane, or pellet stoves
- $1000 for an exchange to an electric heat pump
In 2020, the Village increased these rebates by contributing $5,000 a year for five years to the program, while the Valemount Community Forest made a contribution of $15,000 to the program to be used over five years.
2022 program rebates and other perks
With the Village of Valemount and the Valemount Community Forest contributions, the 2022 wood stove exchange program will provide rebates of $1,300 for CSA/EPA certified wood replacements, while $2,750 is available for cleaner heating alternatives and $3,000 for electric heat pumps. Each replacement is also eligible for an additional $130 (maximum) towards permits or inspection fees.
Other program partners are Valemount Home Hardware, who are offering a 10 per cent discount on pellets for program participants who exchanged their wood appliance for a pellet stove. As well, the local newspaper, the Rocky Mountain Goat, has offered a 20 per cent discount on the monthly newspaper ad for the program and designed a contest for those who choose non-wood replacements through the program. Participants have a chance to win $200 towards their home heating bills.