The sources of the pollution that pushed the Red Deer region’s air quality past allowable standards may soon be conclusive.
The province’s long awaited action plan to clear the air in the region was released on Thursday.
It comes with an $810,000 cash infusion, which includes $250,000 grant for the Parkland Airshed Management Zone and in addition to a new air monitoring station in Red Deer, $560,000 will be provided to refine monitoring in the area.
Kevin Warren, executive director of the Parkland Airshed Management Zone, said the money will strengthen the efforts to identify the sources of high fine particulate matter levels in the airshed.
The sources could be anything from motor vehicle emissions, home heating or emissions from coal-fired plants.
Warren said it is important to have a better understanding of the sources because you do not want to invest all these efforts and money only to find out later on that it was the wrong move.
“If you are talking harder actions where you put limits on industrial facilities or changing regulations, you better make sure you have a pretty good understanding of what the sources are,” he said. “Because you don’t want to invest all those efforts and all that money and find out later that wasn’t where we should have been putting our dollars.”
He said they have a good sense that a lot of the pollution has to do with motor vehicle emissions.
Warren said PAMZ can get straight to work on the next phase of the monitoring with the funding now secured.
“We believe and what we have seen most of our elevated PM 2.5 event days are related to winter time smog,” said Warren. “We are going to get a monitoring program all set up and ready to go so it’s running by the next winter.”
Warren said he welcomes the plan and looks forward to delving into the details.
Between 2009 and 2013, ambient air quality in the Red Deer region exceeded Canadian standards for fine particulate matter.
The plan will help bring ambient air quality in compliance with national standards.
The government will undertake a number of actions to address both industrial emissions and non-point sources such as transportation.
Under Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan, all coal pollution in the province will be phased out by 2030. Burning coal is one of the major sources of air pollution.