New Westminster to get permanent air quality station
Metro Vancouver is going ahead with plans to install a permanent air quality monitoring station in New Westminster but hasn't determined where it would go.
The regional district did a monitoring study in New Westminster at the request of the city and others in the community for the past two years. The results showed, to the surprise of no one in New West, elevated levels of fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide on Front Street underneath the parkade, which is a truck route. Those results were compared to results from a temporary station in Sapperton Park.
The study concluded since New West is a major transportation corridor with truck routes close to schools it should have a permanent station. The closest of the 26 current stations in region is at Burnaby South secondary. On Wednesday, Metro Vancouver's parks and environment committee gave its staff the green light for a New Westminster site.
"We are in the early days in the planning process," said Metro Vancouver air quality manager Roger Quan. "Typically it does take a fair number of months to commission a station."
He said the capital cost for a station is about $150,000. Metro Vancouver will work with the city on identifying a site, which can be difficult because they need to find a spot where the owner is willing to have a station on it.
"The footprint is not large, but does require access by staff," said Quan.
He noted soot drops off dramatically about 200 metres from a roadway, and John Robson, F.W. Howay, the proposed elementary on the former St. Mary's Hospital site and New Westminster secondary all fall well within that distance of a truck route.
Coun. Jaimie McEvoy, chair of the city's environment committee and co-chair of the city's Master Transportation Plan committee, said a permanent station would help the city when it goes to senior levels of government on transportation issues.
"That's been something we've been lobbying for and asked for," said McEvoy. "It won't eliminate the need for (mobile) spot checking in the city. It's an important step in the right direction. It will give us some level of solid information of the level of this problem."
McEvoy said the good thing about Metro Vancouver collecting the data is it won't have an ulterior motive for the results to be skewed in a way to promote a political agenda.
"We have a lot of ammunition in terms of being able to illustrate our community as a central area of the transportation system. But then communities like Surrey are pushing for more traffic routes and bridges. We're matched up against that kind of situation," said McEvoy. "You can get a lot farther with provincial officials when you have solid scientific information rather than anecdotes. I can tell them my mother's asthma gets worse [which doesn't register with provincial authorities], but they can see it when they get charts."