Some Canadians affected by wildfires would consider moving: study

A recent study shows that one in four Canadians would consider moving somewhere that isn't affected by smoke and fumes from recent wildfires. Kate Walker reports.

By Kate Walker

As B.C. battles its worst wildfire season yet, many in the province are questioning what the future holds.

The wildfire smoke that triggered an air quality advisory recently across Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley has since been cancelled, but we’re not out of the woods yet according to respirologist Dr. Susan Kwan.

She says another shift in weather could push major toxic substances back into the air and hamper people’s breathing — regardless of whether or not they have underlying health issues.

“One is the ozone, the other one nitrogen dioxide, the third one is what we call the particulates, that burn as little dust that comes into the air,” said Kwan.

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Some Canadians who have been directly affected by the smoke and fumes tell CityNews that air quality has been top of mind as of late.

“Our health is a priority so in order to take care of our health it is important for us to move to other places instead of staying in that place,” one said.

“I don’t live in the Interior but of course I’d move,” another added.

A new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute reports that one in five people in B.C. say they are considering moving elsewhere to avoid the smoky summers.

“I think that’s a really scary finding, that wildfires, climate-related impacts are getting so significant that people are considering leaving their homes, maybe the town that they grew up in. I think something that’s also really important to consider, is not everyone has the capacity to be able to pick up and leave – particularly with indigenous communities,” said University of British Columbia research fellow Dr. Sarah Dickson-Hoyle.

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The study paints a gloomy picture of not much hope for the future – with 55 per cent of Canadians expecting things to get worse. Meanwhile, 26 per cent say they consider this the new norm.

“It’s happening too much and it’s happening every year now – seems to at least the last few years – and it really affects people’s health and all of that,” one person told CityNews.

“I don’t feel threatened in the city at least, if I was vacationing I might think twice,” said another.

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