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City of Vernon begins tracking local air quality with six new sensors

Click to play video: 'Vernon installs new air quality monitoring sensors' Vernon installs new air quality monitoring sensors
WATCH: Between intense wildfire smoke and spring dust challenges, Vernon has suffered through some periods of seriously poor air quality. Now the municipality is getting into the business of tracking local air quality conditions. Reporter Megan Turcato has the details on what’s been installed and how it could help the municipality moving forward. – Nov 24, 2021

Between intense wildfire smoke and spring dust challenges, Vernon, B.C. has suffered through some periods of very poor air quality.

Now, the municipality is getting into the business of tracking local air quality conditions.

Earlier this month, the City of Vernon installed six new air quality monitoring sensors in neighbourhoods around the city.

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“Anywhere from the Foothills to the Landing to the to the North End, we can get an idea of what the air quality is at any moment,” said the city’s general manager of public works Chris Ovens.

While other air quality tracking is done locally, the new civic-installed sensors are believed to be the first time the municipality has gathered its own air quality data.

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“I’m pleased and proud that Vernon is doing this. This is actually very progressive and I think this is a step in the right direction,” said Thompson Rivers University professor Michael Mehta, who studies air quality.

Mehta applauded the new sensors. He believes they will help the municipality make more informed decisions.

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“If you want to make a decision…about a community development, a project, a road, highways, whatever it happens to be, you need that basic information at the local level,” said Mehta.

“It’s not enough to be able to rely just upon data that might be gathered provincially, it might be taken from an air sensor that is quite a distance away.”

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However, Mehta argued the data should be made public in real time, something the city says it doesn’t yet have the capacity to do.

“The platform is just a website with a secure log-in for the City of Vernon staff. We will just evaluate that and see if at any point we are going to make that available to the public,” Ovens said.

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A look at what the sensors have gathered is expected to come out in the spring when staff update city council on the issue.

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