Lack of wind leads to floatplane flight cancellations, air quality advisory

WatchIsland Health warns vulnerable populations in the Cowichan Valley should stay indoors

For much of the British Columbia south coast on Monday, people awoke to see pea soup fog limiting visibility.

It cancelled floatplane flights throughout the morning leaving some travellers stranded.

“Either ferries which takes too long or I got to wait for the weather. Yeah, so that’s the predicament,” said John Sinclair, a Nanaimo resident.

The lack of wind also led to an air quality advisory being extended in the Cowichan Valley for a second day.

The level of particulate matter in the air is higher than provincially recommended.

“Why it’s a health concern is it can go deep down into your lungs and actually get into the bloodstream and cause some health effects that way,” said Dr. Shannon Waters, the region’s medical health officer.

Island Health recommends people with chronic underlying medical conditions stay indoors and postpone strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted.

The health authority says exposure is particularly a concern for those who are more vulnerable.

“The elderly, infants, people with chronic medical conditions such as things going on with their heart or lungs and also pregnant women,” said Waters.

The advisory comes with a ban on open burning outside until the air quality improves.

It comes halfway through a month where the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) allows some outdoor burning.

But officials say ideally no one would have outdoor fires.

“We also encourage folks to really think about how they can burn less and so one of those important ways is to take their yard and garden waste to one of the CVRD drop off locations,” said Keith Lawrence, the senior environmental analyst for the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

There is also a wood stove exchange program where people can get a subsidy to convert to a more efficient and cleaner heating method.

This is the Cowichan Valley’s second advisory of 2019.

The province says the air quality has improved throughout Monday and it will decide whether the advisory can be lifted Tuesday.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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