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Oshawa hopes to clear the air downtown

Eight sensors will monitor air quality and traffic movements in city’s core

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

The City of Oshawa is working with several partners to monitor air quality as well as traffic patterns in the downtown core.

In partnership with TeachingCity, the city has installed four air monitoring sensors and four traffic sensors on street lights.

The faculty of Applied Science and engineering at the University of Toronto, the Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research (SOCAAR), A.U.G Signals Ltd. (AUG), and North Line Canada are also involved.

The air monitoring sensors, installed by AUG, will collect key air quality pollutants, and the traffic sensor, which were installed by North Line Canada, will collect data on vehicle volume and movements.

Julie MacIsaac, the city’s director of innovation and transformation, told The Oshawa Express the idea behind the partnership is to put a lens on urban issues.

“I think there’s a couple of things that certainly we are looking to correlate traffic data with air quality data, specifically in the downtown [area],” says MacIsaac. “As we move to bring more pedestrians, or people living in the downtown, we want to make sure that we can measure air quality, we know that sometimes traffic congestion can contribute to air quality, so that’s all part of that is trying to understand.”

She also notes all or most municipalities are looking at greenhouse gas emission reduction plans.

“Certainly that will help benchmark some of the particulates in the downtown, and help us develop and form some plans around GHD reductions,” says MacIsaac.

The sensors can be located on the south side of King Street between Centre Street and Simcoe Street, on the west side of Simcoe between King and Bond Street, as well as the northeast corner of Bond and Simcoe, the northwest corner of Bond and Centre, and the southwest corner of Centre and King.

“These traffic movements will show us how long on average cars are stopped, queuing on lights, etc. It’ll do a number of different things in terms of traffic matters,” explains MacIsaac.

The project is scheduled to take one year, and the sensors will be taken down in early 2020, MacIsaac explains.

“So it’ll be collecting the data continually for a year,” she says. “So, we want it to span all four seasons.”