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Vancouver opens 'cleaner air spaces' for public getaway amid air quality advisory

Five locations across the city are now providing high-efficiency filtered air to the public
Monday, Sept. 14 in Vancouver. Photo: Instagram/Wpgphotog

For people in Vancouver in need of a reprieve from compromised air quality, the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Park Board are providing “cleaner air spaces.”

It’s been a week since wildfire smoke from Washington State enacted a Metro Vancouver air quality advisory and rendered the region’s air the worst in the world, according to IQAir.

On Tuesday, the Swiss-designed real-time air quality information system recorded Vancouver as having worse quality air than U.S. cities closer to the wildfires – including Seattle.

As a municipal response, five locations across Vancouver have begun allowing the public at civic locations that possess high-efficiency air filters. Those locations are:

  • Carnegie Community Centre (available from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
  • Evelyne Saller Centre (available from 9:15 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
  • Gathering Place Community Centre (available from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
  • Mount Pleasant Community Centre (available from 7:15 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 7:15 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday to Friday, and 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday)
  • Vancouver Public Library Central Branch lower level rooms (opening hours to be announced)

“These sites offer a limited number of spaces with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) or MERV 13 filtering, which can support people struggling with respiratory issues,” the city explained in a news release.

Exposure to particulate air matter – a result of wafting wildfire smoke – is particularly a concern for people with underlying conditions, respiratory infections like COVID-19, pregnant women, infants, children, and older adults.

As such, Environment Canada is recommending people limit their time outdoors.

As of Tuesday, the weather agency's air quality advisory remained in effect for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

This week's forecast indicates a slight improvement in air quality today but ground-level smoke is predicted to remain until later this week.