Air quality in our region is good and almost always meets local objectives. For most common air contaminants, our air quality is better than it was 20 years ago, even with the growth in population and economic activity we've experienced. But as our population increases, it may be challenging to maintain our good air quality. Cars, trucks, buses, ships, trains, planes, home furnaces, fireplaces, industrial operations, and commercial facilities all emit air contaminants.
Metro Vancouver is responsible for monitoring air quality in the region, controlling industrial, commercial and some residential emissions, creating long-term plans and conducting emission inventories. Commercial and industrial operations contribute a significant amount of the total emissions released in the Lower Fraser Valley. Metro Vancouver uses a system of permits and regulations to help manage the major sources of business and industrial emissions and restrict these contaminants. Metro Vancouver staff also monitor permitted and regulated emission sources, and enforce air emission limits. Lower Fraser Valley emission inventories continue to indicate that emissions from motor vehicles are the largest single source of air contaminants.
Metro Vancouver was the first major metropolitan area in Canada to develop and adopt an Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) in 1994. With improvements in vehicle emission control technology and the implementation of key AQMP emission reduction measures, such as stringent industrial controls and the introduction of the AirCare vehicle emission inspection and maintenance program, region-wide emissions decreased by 38% between 1985 and 2000. Although air quality in Metro Vancouver has improved since 1994, maintaining healthy air quality will be challenging with continued growth in population, trade and transportation. As such, Metro Vancouver adopted its third plan - the Integrated Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Management Plan - in October 2011.
To protect public health and the environment, improve visual air quality and minimize the region’s contribution to global climate change, Metro Vancouver continues to work in close collaboration with other local, provincial and federal agencies to develop and implement emission reduction programs for local businesses and residents.