Wood stoves are used as a primary heat source on the island. Photo by Greg Osoba.


Vancouver Island’s Strathcona Regional District (SRD), in partnership with the BC Lung Association, has evolved its wood stove exchange program. It now offers rebates, ranging from $300-$750, for upgrading stoves to less polluting, more efficient models and converting to natural gas or pellet sources—or to heat pumps—in an effort to reduce air pollution. The program is underway and runs through until the end of 2022.

“The BC Lung Association (BC Lung) has long been adamant—wood smoke is bad for lungs…burning wood emits harmful toxins and fine particles into the air that can worsen asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” the organization wrote Sept. 23, 2021.

SRD Community Services Senior Manager Aniko Nelson says the program began in 2017 as a simple exchange effort, where residents could get cash back for upgrading existing stoves to more environmentally friendly models.

She says that with the inclusion last fall of other forms of energy in the rebate program and increased publicity, word is spreading.

Nelson adds that, with more heat source options available, the aim is to incentivize wood stove owners to get away from heavy carbon producing stoves. But, she acknowledges that in rural areas, like Cortes Island, where power outages are common during the winter, switching to an electricity dependent form of heat could be challenging.

CKTZ speaks with Aniko Nelson for details on the latest campaign:

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative.