To Ban Or Not To Ban Outdoor Wood-Fired Boilers

The council of Kamloops has rolled back its ban on outdoor wood-fired boilers that have been in place for more than a decade; however, two councilors have argued that it can impact on air quality. According to Glen Cheetham, sustainability services supervisor, the city regulation prohibits the use of such devices that were developed during the time when there were no laws that regulate boilers.

New government regulations took effect last May 1 and Cheethman said that it makes the city ban redundant. Provincial rules allow boilers that meet the set standards for emissions at federal level to be installed 40 meters away from property lines. The change will provide an opportunity for companies and organizations to install biomass burners to meet the target in greenhouse gas reductions.

Since the boilers use renewable fuel in the form of wood or wood waste, they are considered as carbon neutral. If the devices are used responsibly, space heat can be produced without GHG emissions. However, city councilors Tina Lange and Denis Walsh have concerns on the lifting of the ban because it can lead to an increase in particulates in the environment.

Neither of the councilors was convinced that the provincial regulations on how boilers can be installed and operated will be enforced. Monitoring will not happen because of the lack of resources. The 40-meter setback rule will not stop companies from using burners in the Mission Flats area. The ban could remain but variance applications may be considered if the property owners outside the valley bottom want a boiler.

On the other hand, councilor Kent Christian said the idea seems counter-intuitive because removal of the ban means boiler technology is no longer the garbage it was when the laws took effect. Existing ways of heating the home release harmful emissions. Wood-fired boilers will reduce rotting and decaying wood from the forest floor.

Boilers today use different types of fuel from mains gas, natural gas and biomass. However, the way that boilers are maintained and repaired remains the same. Boiler repairs are still required whenever there are issues with performance or if the components are no longer in good working condition.

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