The smoke of summer


Once more, I need to speak to the summer challenge of air quality, water shortages and campfires. I live near Roberts Creek Campground and most of the more than 20 campsites are host to a fire almost every night of the season.

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Those who enjoy having campfires often shuffle themselves around throughout the experience in order to avoid getting smoke in their eyes and lungs. However, I am unable to shuffle my house out of the way. It is in direct line of the offshore breeze as it heads toward the water taking the smoke with it every evening.

Each year we are grateful when the weather is cool and damp enough to encourage us to shut our windows at night but the particles and the smell still seep into the house. Itchy, burning eyes, dust and difficulty breathing are only some of the challenges we face.

The heat waves that we have experienced over the past few years are much worse yet we stay huddled in our house in front of fans every night, unable to take advantage of even the slightest natural breeze. As a result, our house often doesn’t get the chance to cool down overnight because the smoke can linger until well into the wee hours.

The irony is not lost on us that we have increasingly severe water restrictions and fire bans everywhere except the one right next door to us. I can’t imagine the amount of water it would take to put out a fire sparked by one of many burning each night in the campground. I would rather put that water to use watering our food supplies and plants that have to make do with leftover dishwater.

I remain impressed that the neighbourhood near the Porpoise Bay campgrounds was able to have the rules changed so that group fire pits were created instead of individual ones and as a result, much less smoke spewed into the surrounding houses. It is a solution that is possible in Roberts Creek but to date there has been no will to make the change. The campground would lend itself nicely to a lovely group fire pit right beside the stream that flows through its edge. It would be safer, cleaner and a way to keep all of us happy.

I love my community but I do wish that my health and well-being took priority over the romance of the campfire at every site.

Helen Halet, Roberts Creek

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