Should Hamilton Adopt Oakville’s Air Pollution Bylaw Regiment?

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John Piercy/Used with Permission

Hamilton's industrial sector at night from Burlington

Councillors sitting as Board of Health discussed the Town of Oakville’s Health Protection Air Quality By-Law during their July Board of Health meeting. (Meeting Video)

In the end, Councillors decided to take no action themselves, asking the province to implement new regulations for fine particulate matter.

There was a discussion of the challenge of directly emitted fine particulate matter measuring 2.5 microns or less. especially from industrial operations and building development across the City.

The Oakville By-Law requires “major” emitters of five types of air emissions to register and pay a $25,000 fee to the Town which is used by the City to monitor and review emissions.

The criteria for registration is:

  • More than 300kg per year of directly emitted fine particulate matter;
  • More than 10,000kg per year of volatile organic compounds;
  • More than 20,000kg per year of nitrogen oxides;
  • More than 20,000kg per year of sulphur dioxide; or
  • More than 10,000 kg per year of ammonia.

Emitters must also complete a Emissions Summary Dispersion Model report.

The major emitter’s application is then processed, ultimately leading to a Council vote to either approve or deny the land use of the emitter’s operations. The Council meeting is widely advertised, delegations are invited, and then Council makes a decision.

Hamilton City staff note in their assessment of the By-Law that Oakville is the only municipality in Ontario with this type of By-Law, does not have must industry operating in its boundaries, and therefore the cost of implementation considers of a lower economic impact.

“Oakville is not an industrial town, and so the impact on Oakville of discouraging industrial businesses from locating there has presumably not been significant (specific data are not available). However, Hamilton has a strong industrial base and the economic impacts to the City of this by-law are anticipated to be significant.”

Councillor Sam Merulla moved a motion calling on the Province to act “to establish legally enforceable regulatory limits for PM2.5 and PM10 for inclusion in Regulation 419”, and for the City to enforce the bylaw prohibiting track-out of dust onto City streets and more street sweeping in the industrial areas of Hamilton.

2 thoughts on “Should Hamilton Adopt Oakville’s Air Pollution Bylaw Regiment?

  1. Industry in Hamilton has been getting away with far too much for much too long! Anything to increase standards is a good thing!

  2. FROM ENVIRONMENT HAMILTON – PROGRESS ON PARTICULATE POLLUTION

    Our July 13th, 2017 delegation to the city’s Board of Health made a difference where air particulate pollution is concerned! .

    Environment Hamilton delegated at the July 13th Board of Health meeting in response to a staff report regarding the Town of Oakville’s ‘Health Protection Air Quality By-Law’ (see http://www.oakville.ca/environment/health-protection-air-quality.html). Staff is recommending against Hamilton pursuing an Oakville-style by-law to reduce air particulate pollution. We are not surprised by the staff recommendation as it would be a significant undertaking for the city to start to regulate particulate emissions from the many industrial facilities in Hamilton. Further, we are not convinced that it is appropriate for Hamilton to take on this regulatory role.

    Instead, we believe there are some actions both the city and the provincial Ministry of Environment & Climate Change can take that would help to address air particulate pollution problems in and near our industrial core. In fact, we have been pushing for action on some of these sources since before 2012!

    Prior to delegating, we reached out to Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla to make him aware of our on-going concerns regarding particulate pollution in and around the city’s industrial core. Councillor Merulla indicated he would prepare a motion to support action on the concerns we identified.

    We asked the Board of Health to please consider doing the following:

    -Proactive enforcement of Hamilton’s Streets By-law 86-77 to discourage the track-out of dirt and debris from industrial properties onto city streets. The by-law empowers the city to require violators to clean up drag and and, failing that, to clean up the roadway and place the clean-up cost on the violator’s property taxes.

    -Commit to enhanced municipal street sweeping in the industrial core. Regular sweeping can make a huge difference as far as preventing drag out from becoming a source of air particulate pollution.

    -Call on the provincial Ministry of Environment & Climate Change to develop and implement legally enforceable regulatory standards for PM2.5 and PM10 – through Ontario Regulation 419 (Local Air Quality) – so that local industries are required to monitor and control respirable (PM2.5) and inhalable (PM10) particulate emissions.

    We are happy to report that our efforts made a difference! The excerpt below provides the text of the motion that was passed by the Board of Health. We already have a meeting scheduled with staff from Public Health to talk about next steps and will keep you updated on any progress!

    Excerpt from the minutes of the July 13th , 2017 Board of Health Meeting:
    6. Reduction of Airborne Particulate in Hamilton (Added Item 9.1)

    WHEREAS, over the course of summer 2012, Environment Hamilton’s Dustbusters project identified many sources of airborne particulate emanating from industrial sources,

    WHEREAS, Clean Air Hamilton, the City of Hamilton’s Public Health Department and others have highlighted the public health risks associated with breathing airborne particulates, especially PM10 and PM2.5 particles,

    WHEREAS, although track out issues are noted in the bylaw, the City of Hamilton’s Streets Bylaw 86-77 is not intended for controlling airborne emissions, and;

    WHEREAS, the Ontario Ministry of Environment and the City of Hamilton both have an interest in reducing airborne particulate in Hamilton;

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

    (a) That the Board of Health make a formal request to the Minister of the Environment to establish legally enforceable regulatory limits for PM2.5 and PM10 for inclusion in Regulation 419, Air Pollution – Local Air Quality;

    (b) That staff consult with Environment Hamilton, Clean Air Hamilton and the Ontario Ministry of Environment to review the Streets By-law 86-77, and develop a better legal instrument as well as other recommendations, to reduce airborne particulate in Hamilton and report back to the Board of Health;

    (c) That Street By-law 86-77 be proactively enforced to discourage track-out violations in the industrial core; and

    (d) That staff be directed to enhance municipal street sweeping in the industrial core.

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