News / Calgary

Healthy forest vs. healthy lungs: Calgary councillor asks for smoke mitigation

Fires burning in Alberta, B.C. and the United States are causing long-term air quality warnings in the City of Calgary.

Coun. Richard Pootmans.

Elizabeth Cameron / for Metro

Coun. Richard Pootmans.

A hazy summer has one city councillor wondering if more could be done to give Calgarians lung relief.

Coun. Richard Pootmans said Calgarians have endured an unusual amount of forest fire smoke and suggested there's been a change in forest-fire management that could be making matters worse for citizens and their lung health.

"In the past, there's been controlled burns, now everybody acknowledges that forest fires actually have to go through a natural cycle and it leads to a healthy forest," said Pootmans. "The Faustian problem we have is a healthy forest versus 1.2 million pairs of lungs taking a hit for that."

Pootmans asked the city's administrators what we could do about this "impossible" problem.

Community services general manager Kurt Hanson said he likes big challenges but isn't sure he's up to the fire problem, but offered some ways the city can help and has responded.

"One of the things we might be able to do, some of those burns that are done are renewal burns they don't respond as quickly, we can connect with the department of environment and parks," Hanson said.

Hanson said the community opened up doors to bring kids' activities inside, the city's monitored staff and modified work if needed.

The city also introduced a fire ban to make sure the city isn't contributing any more smoke to the mix.

"We're also helping, we've deployed three vehicles – two ladders and one engine to help in Waterton," Hanson said.

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