Message from the Chair, Dora McMillan

Air Quality has long been a concern in Quesnel. This city is home to two pulpmills, a plywood plant, and several other industrial sources all within the bowl. In 1987 Quesnel Environmental Society was formed to address air quality problems. I was one of the founding members and have been involved with this issue since.

We approached local industries to find air quality solutions together. It isn’t one single industry that is the problem so we needed to monitor everything and look at the situation as a whole, to find solutions. To have community involvement in the process I made 32 presentations to various community groups from education to service groups and health agencies. Everyone was very receptive of the idea of a community process where we look at all sources and find the solutions to improve air quality.

In 1999 the Quesnel Air Quality Roundtable was formed, when funding was received from all levels of government. It is made up of representation from: the Quesnel Environmental Society, Industry, City, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Forest, Ministry of Highways, Ministry of Health, and Cariboo Regional District. The Roundtable established five air quality monitoring stations throughout the valley for an initial three year monitoring program. The three year monitoring was a request of the roundtable to be sure the recommendations were scientific based, in all weather conditions. Then 28 recommendations were made as ways to improve the air quality. Because we are community based we do not have the power to enact and enforce any of the recommendations. This is up to governing agencies involved in the process.

Changing air quality is a long process. Improvements don’t happen overnight. We recognize that industries cannot make major improvements overnight it requires time and money . We are making progress and will reach our goal of 30% reductions by 2014.

Research is proving the impacts that poor air quality have on health not only with lung issues but also heart problems and even premature deaths. I have been chairing these meetings since 1999 and have become very involved and dedicated to this process. How can one not become involved and work to improve our life style here in Quesnel.