03/11/2015 01:55 EDT | Updated 05/11/2015 05:59 EDT

Parksville moves to limit wood stoves

A councillor in a Vancouver Island community is working on a bylaw that could ban or limit the types of wood-burning stoves used to heat homes.

Kirk Oates, a councillor in Parksville, B.C., is currently in consultation with residents about the exact form the bylaw would take.

"It's been raised as a concern by a number of people in the community," said Oates. "There seems to be a direct correlation between when the smoke hangs near the ground and when the complaints come in."

Oates said it's unlikely the bylaw would lead to a complete ban of wood-burning stoves. Instead, it could include a sunset clause that would allow those who currently heat their homes with wood to do so until their stove needs to be replaced.

"I don't have an appetite for coming in and being iron-fisted," said Oates.

Oates also heard from a number of residents who believe in using wood stoves as a sustainable form of heating.

A 2012 B.C. Air Quality report found that 61 per cent of wood stove users use one as a reliable source of heat during power outages.

Another issue in a small community like Parksville is the Canadian allure of sitting in a cabin with a fire burning at one's feet.

"It's a very difficult thing to come out and say that you're totally against it, because there's a certain amount of romance involved with a wood fire," said Oates.

Taking advantage of better technology

The answer, according to Oates, may lie in more efficient wood-burning appliances.

"Maybe there's an appropriate technology that we can have what we believe is a historical right and still be responsible to our neighbours and the environment," said Oates.

The province offers a wood stove rebate program to encourage residents to exchange older wood stoves for low-emission appliances, which can reduce emissions by up to 70 per cent.

According to a 2011 B.C. Air Quality report, one out of five local governments have bylaws regarding wood burning appliances, which range from banning the installation of non-certified wood burning appliances to removing non-certified appliances by a specified date.

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Parksville, B.C. moves to limit wood stoves