City council will soon consider establishing a new bylaw that restricts the amount of particulate matter that comes from local industry.
Coun. Brian McHattie will encourage fellow councillors next month to vote in favour of investigating measures to curb Hamilton's "multiple emitters of air pollution" in the form of a bylaw that would fine them for it.
Hamilton has about 186 deaths from air pollution each year, said McHattie, who represents Ward 1.
"Somehow over the years, it's just become a number" to people, he said.
But he thinks there could be "good support" around the council table for a new bylaw, which would be similar to one implemented in Oakville in 2010. He'll ask for a report looking at potential costs around regulating fine particulate such as PM2.5, a known aggravator of respiratory issues.
"If it's a cost recovery model then fair enough," he said. "But if it's going to be cost another $100,000 a year, we'll have to consider that."
McHattie was inspired to bring up the issue after hearing about Oakville's bylaw. That town's bylaw evolved from concerns about air quality, particularly as it related to having a potential natural gas power plant in the area, said Cindy Toth, Oakville's director of environmental policy.
Currently, the Ministry of Environment does some regulating of industrial emissions, Toth said. But when it comes to fine particulate matter, gaps exist in enforcement. The bylaw fills the gaps.
"Our bylaw does not duplicate provincial regulation," she said.
The town has one staff member in the form of a research policy analyst. Industries pay a fee for approval, and that covers the town hiring a peer reviewer and some of the administrative costs, she said.
"We feel that it has been successful," she said.
Oakville is the only municipality in Ontario with a bylaw, although there are cities with similar regulations in British Columbia and Alberta, she said.
Under the potential bylaw, the city could fine industrial emitters who surpass the limit for particulate matter.
McHattie's motion, which he'll present at a general issues committee meeting on Aug. 12, asks for input from municipal law enforcement, legal services and other departments.