In 2007, Halton Region initiated an ambitious air monitoring program to address air quality concerns related to rapid growth and development in the Region. The Halton Region Health Department wanted an air monitoring program that could be used to: estimate the contribution of different sources to air pollution in the Region; estimate background levels of air pollution across the Region; assess the cumulative impacts of proposed emission sources on local air quality; assess the cumulative impacts of various development patterns and transportation options on air quality across the region; and inform land use planning policies for the Region.
The air monitoring program included: 1) airshed modeling across the Region using a methodology piloted by the City of Toronto in collaboration with the Clean Air Council and Golder Associates; 2) the establishment of a stationary air monitoring station in the Town of Milton to supplement the two air monitoring stations run by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change in Oakville and Burlington; and 3) the purchase of two highly sophisticated portable air monitoring stations, called airpointer®, that could be used to measure air quality at different locations around the Region. The portable air monitoring stations have been used to measure air quality on the southern and western border of the Region to determine background levels of air pollution coming into the Region; at the waste management site, to determine baseline levels of air pollution for future project proposals; along high volume traffic corridors such as Highway #5 and the QEW to inform land use planning policies related to traffic corridors; and at other locations to calibrate and refine the Region’s airshed model.
Projects such as Halton Region’s Air Quality Program can be used to 1) support minimum separation distances between high traffic and sensitive land uses, including homes, schools, and hospitals; 2) assess the cumulative impact of corporate projects on local air quality; 3) support Environmental Assessments and Certificates of Approval so they can examine the cumulative impact on local air quality, and; 4) assess broad transportation and land use planning policies or plans for their impact on air quality to support future amendments to the Official Plan and future regional policies.
Air quality has been a traditional cornerstone of the Clean Air Council’s work. Today, the Clean Air Council continues to facilitate efforts to advance air quality monitoring and modeling, advancing the collective knowledge and understanding of air quality improvement measures across the region.