Town passes new by-law to protect public from fine particulate matter

By-law would reduce harmful emissions

February 2, 2010 – For immediate release
Town Council has unanimously passed Health Protection Air Quality By-law 2010-035. The new by-law’s purpose is to protect the health of Oakville residents from the effects of fine particulate matter (fine PM). It allows the town to collect information on emissions from facilities within Oakville and implements an approval process for major emissions of fine PM.

The by-law will immediately apply to new facilities that are major emitters of fine PM while transition conditions will apply to existing facilities. In deciding whether to approve a facility’s application, Council will consider whether major emissions of fine PM from the facility have or will have significant, negative health effect on the community.

“We’re taking immediate action to protect the health of our community,” Mayor Rob Burton said. “Despite fine particulate matter being identified as a toxic substance, neither the provincial nor federal government has taken regulatory action to control emissions. There is no safe level of fine PM, so even a small reduction in emissions can save lives.”

Staff presented the first draft of the by-law to Council on December 22, 2009. Council then directed staff to release the by-law for public review and report back to Council on the results of the public consultation process on February 1, 2010.

Staff recommended numerous amendments to the original draft by-law to address concerns raised by the public and local businesses including greater clarity of application and the addition of transitional conditions for existing emitters. These amendments were included in the version of the by-law that Council passed last night.

Under the by-law, existing emitters who require Certificates of Approval for their air emissions from the Ontario government will be required to report to the town on their emissions of fine PM and four other pollutants within six months. Emitters that do not currently require a Certificate of Approval will have up to one year to submit a report.
“The Province of Ontario specifically gave municipalities the power to enact by-laws to protect the health and safety of their community,” Mayor Burton noted. “This Council is committed to making Oakville the most livable town in Canada and we will continue to look for further initiatives to protect the health of our community.”

A key feature of the by-law will be the creation of a new database of health-risk air pollutant emissions that will be available to the public on the town’s website. In addition, applications for new ‘major emitter’ facilities will be submitted for peer review and the results will be posted on the town’s website. Both the applicant and the public will then have an opportunity to comment on the application and peer review and make delegations to Council.

“Facilities with major emissions of fine PM will be required under this by-law to provide us with the average and worst-case rates of emissions during operations,” said Cindy Toth, director of Environmental Policy. “Given the significant health effects from fine PM, it is essential that we provide our residents with the information they need to protect their health.”

Facilities that receive approval from the town are required to prepare annual reports that would include their average and worst-case rates of daily and annual health-risk air pollutant emissions from the facility for at least three years following approval. Existing facilities that are not major emitters would file a one-time report, unless there is a change in the level of emissions from a facility.

The by-law also provides for penalties of up to $100,000 for facilities subject to the by-law that fail to report or obtain an approval. Subsequent offences would be subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 a day.

For more information, visit the Health Protecton and Air Quality web page.


For more information:
Jane Courtemanche
Director, Strategy, Policy and Communications
Town of Oakville
905-845-6601, ext. 3038

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Town passes new by-law to protect public from fine particulate matter