Collaborating to Improve Community Health and Local Environment in Trail, British Columbia

April 25, 2017

Teck’s Trail Operations is one of the world’s largest fully integrated zinc and lead smelting and refining complexes and has been operating in British Columbia for over 120 years. 

Smelting and refining can result in emissions to air and water, which can affect the environment and the local community. To manage these impacts and identify opportunities for improvement, Teck participates as a member of the Trail Area Health & Environment Committee (THEC). THEC is an award-winning example of how the community, working with industry and government as partners, can ensure a healthy community while supporting resource development.

Multi-Stakeholder Committee Promotes a Healthy Environment

The committee promotes a healthy environment through a comprehensive integrated program that focuses on improving air quality, supporting children’s healthy development and reducing lead exposure. It is chaired by the Mayor of Trail with representatives from Teck, Interior Health, the B.C. Ministry of Environment, municipal councils and the local community.  

The committee sets the direction for the Trail Area Health & Environment Program (THEP), which focuses on five aspects to improve health in the area: Family Health, Air Quality, Home & Garden, Property Development, and Parks & Wildlands. The program and partners protect the environment through air emissions reduction, environmental monitoring, reducing dust in the home environment and focusing on family health. 

“The Trail Area Health & Environment Program is an integrated, comprehensive and inclusive program led by the community,” says Mayor Mike Martin, Chair of the THEC. “By working collectively with community stakeholders and having tremendous support from Trail Operations, the Ministry of Environment and the Interior Health Authority, the results achieved have been remarkable.”

Focusing on Continuous Improvements

The Committee has routinely set and achieved goals related to health and the environment since its inception over 25 years ago. Trail Operation’s air quality improvements have played a significant part in achieving greater community health. With the installation of the KIVCET smelter in 1997 and subsequent operational improvements, stack lead emissions have been reduced by over 99%. The annual average lead and arsenic in community air was also reported as the lowest ever in 2016. This is a result of Trail Operations’ focus on dust reduction, including the recent completion of a $35 million Smelter Recycle Building that will reduce fugitive dust emissions by up to 25%.

Community Health in Trail and Next Steps

In addition to improving air quality, THEP has undertaken an innovative approach to achieving wider community engagement. In 2016, a survey distributed in Trail showed high support for the next set of five-year goals, as well as overall satisfaction with the program offerings. Moving forward, THEP will continue to promote a healthy environment that focuses on improving air quality, supporting children’s healthy development and reducing lead exposure.


First Published on April 25, 2017