PRINCE GEORGE – The Prince George Air Improvement Roundtable has received $11,000 in funding from the provincial government to encourage local residents to trade in older, higher-polluting wood stoves for new emissions-certified stoves.

“Since wood smoke contributes to air pollution, the Wood Stove Exchange Program helps our environment by replacing old stoves with newer, more efficient models,” Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris said.

The Wood Stove Exchange Program helps homeowners by providing them with a $250 rebate when a new wood-burning, pellet or natural gas stove is purchased and an older model retired. These new emissions-certified wood stoves burn one-third less wood and reduce smoke and particulates entering the atmosphere by 70 per cent or more.

“The Wood Stove Exchange program provides an incentive for people who want to replace their current wood burning stoves with more efficient models,” Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond said. “As we work to improve air quality, this is one way residents can do their part.”

The Provincial Wood Stove Exchange Program is run on a community level with local governments applying for the funding to implement an exchange program. It’s managed by the Wood Stove Exchange Steering Committee, which has representation from the provincial government, local governments or community groups, the BC Lung Association, the Wood Energy Technicians of BC (WET BC), along with manufacturers, suppliers and dealers of wood-burning and other fuel appliances.

Thirteen B.C. communities have received $190,000 in Wood Stove Exchange Program funding this year, which will also be used towards educational materials and workshops in the communities to better inform residents on clean wood burning. It is hoped that 600 stoves will be exchanged this year thanks to the program.

Since 2008, the provincial government has invested $2.5 million into the program, resulting in the purchase of more than 6600 cleaner burning models. This equates to an annual estimated reduction of 410 tonnes of particulate matter being pumped into the air.

In British Columbia, all new wood stoves and inserts sold must meet Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission standards.