Air Quality

The Sea to Sky corridor enjoys clean, healthy air; however, ambient concentrations of air pollutants in the Sea to Sky airshed are occasionally at levels that can adversely affect human health.

This trend indicates that air quality could deteriorate, if emissions are not proactively managed. Whistler community has developed a vision for air quality through Whistler 2020.

Management Plan

The RMOW is a member of the Sea to Sky Clean Air Society, and collectively, the Society manages the Sea to Sky Air Quality Management Plan.  

Emission sources addressed through the Sea to Sky Air Quality Management Plan include:

  • Transportation sources, including marine transportation
  • Space heating (natural gas, propane and wood stoves)
  • Off-road vehicles
  • Machinery

Regional air quality initiatives are coordinated by the Sea to Sky Clean Air Society, which was formed in 2010, and includes representatives from provincial, regional and municipal government, transit companies, utility companies and local industry.

Monitoring

The B.C. Ministry of Environment has measured air quality in the region since the 70s, and currently monitors air quality continuously in Squamish, Whistler, and Langdale on the Sunshine Coast.

In addition, the RMOW has operated an air quality monitoring station in the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood since September 2010.

At the Cheakamus Crossing air quality monitoring station, wind speed, direction, and particulates smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) are measured continuously during the year. The small particulates measured are a good indicator of air quality, as particulates this size are mostly a result of combustion, with very few natural particles this small.

There are two Ambient Air Quality Objectives (AAQO) set by the Ministry of Environment that are used for comparison:

  1. The AAQO sets out that 98 per cent of the daily averages should be below 25 μg/m3. At the Cheakamus Crossing monitoring station, 98 per cent of the measured 24-hour averages were below 12.9 μg/m3 in 2012, well below the limit set by the air quality objective.
  2. The AAQO for the annual average for PM2.5 is less than 8 μg/m3. The annual average at Cheakamus Crossing was 5.4 μg/m3 in 2012, also well below the air quality objective.

Air Quality Measurements:

Bylaws

Whistler’s bylaws support air quality management in Whistler.

Idle-Free Whistler

The RMOW is among a number of communities in British Columbia encouraging drivers to turn off their engines. Through the Traffic and Parking Bylaw, vehicles in Whistler are prohibited from idling for more than one minute. 

Burning Regulations

Since 2008, open air burning has not been permitted in Whistler, with the exception of residential campfires (with a valid permit, when the wildfire hazard risk is low) or managing wildfire hazard. View the Fire Protection and Fireworks Bylaw No. 1956, 2010.