Greater Victoria Harbour Authority

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Local community breathes easier

Published on: 
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Two years ago, the community of James Bay had one of the highest monitored levels of Sulphur dioxide in BC. In 2016 that level plummeted, measuring the 29th highest level in the province, as reported in the BC Lung Association State of the Air Report. What happened?

Al-Nashir Charania is GVHA’s environmental projects coordinator. He says that governments have improved benchmarking on air quality, and that the cruise industry has responded effectively to the guidelines. Cruise lines improve on emissions targets by burning cleaner fuel, particularly on approach to harbours. He adds that there’s still work to do, but that these readings prove that industry is on the right track.

“This is great news, not only for the residents of James Bay, but for the city,” says Victoria mayor Lisa Helps. “It’s proof that community partners, working together, can improve quality of life in very real ways.”

Since 2010, GVHA has contributed $10,000 annually to maintain an air quality monitoring station in James Bay, in partnership with the BC Ministry of Environment and Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA). The James Bay monitor is one of 55 maintained across the province, and in part, it was a response to community concern that began in 2007. Throughout 2016, the highest recorded level of SO2 from the James Bay station was 16 parts per billion (ppb), placing well below the “good” sulphur dioxide level guidelines of under 35 ppb, as outlined by VIHA. GVHA has committed to funding the James Bay air quality monitoring station through 2019, with the possibility of ongoing financial support into the future.