The City of Red Deer, singled out by the province for exceeding national standards on particulate matter, says it has been trying to improve its air quality for at least four years.

Earlier this week, Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said while the central Alberta city's air does not pose an immediate health risk, the results are concerning.

Nancy Hackett

Nancy Hackett, environmental initiatives supervisor for the City of Red Deer, says (Elizabath Snaddon/CBC)

The air pollution is created largely by industry and vehicle emissions.

Nancy Hackett, who heads up environmental initiatives for the city, says they have been trying to improve the situation.

"I think what the report does is tell us something that we needed to know," she said.

"It's information that we need to be aware of to protect our community and protect our quality of life here. So I think it's very important information that city residents and regional residents need to be aware of so that we can make changes and we can protect our air quality."

Hackett says Red Deer has expanded public transit options, and encourages people to use bikes and other forms of transportation.

red deer

City officials in Red Deer say efforts have long been underway to improve air quality in the city. (Google Street View)

'Action plan' being developed

She also said 30 per cent of the energy the city buys is green.

The province said it will initiate an "action plan" to deal with poor air quality in the Red Deer area, a move Phillips said is required under the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards are national standards for particulate matter and ozone exposure. This is the first year of annual reporting by all provinces and territories.

Reg Warkentin, policy co-ordinator for the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce, questions the government's motives in releasing the information.

"I think it is kind of creating a shock where there doesn't really need to be one," he said.

"When you look at the data, I think that we see it isn't exactly every day that we have really bad air — it's, you know, every so often under just the right conditions."

Warkentin says the chamber looks forward to upcoming consultations between the city and the province.

Four other regions — Lower Athabasca, Upper Athabasca, North Saskatchewan and South Saskatchewan — are close to exceeding national standards.