No more wood-burning Fireplaces & stoves in Montreal
Register your fireplace before December 22
By John Symon – mtltimes.ca
In August, Montreal adopted a new bylaw concerning wood stoves, fireplaces and other solid-fuel-burning devices, prompted by concerns about public health. In the short term, the use of such devices will be prohibited during smog warnings, effective immediately. The provisions of the bylaw also require owners of such appliances to declare them by December 22.
In the longer term, the use of solid-fuel-burning appliances will be prohibited unless they are recognized by the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and emit no more than 2.5 g/hr of fine particles into the atmosphere. This provision will come into effect on October 1, 2018.
“In Montreal, there are around a dozen smog episodes each winter. Winter smog is formed mostly of fine particulate matter and can be observed in the form of yellowish fog that affects visibility and reduces air quality. During winter smog warnings, you must stop using your solid-fuel-burning appliance, no matter what type of appliance you have (fireplace, wood stove or pellet-burning stove) and even if it is EPA-compliant,” reads part of a Montreal communication on the subject.
RéalMénard, the city’s executive committee member responsible for the environment, recently labelled the wood smoke “a real threat for our environment and the quality of air that we breathe in Montreal.”
Wood smoke in Montreal is responsible for 39 percent of the fine particulate matter, second only in importance to transportation, which is responsible for 45%. Wood stoves also produce carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, etc. These pollutants from burning wood can adversely affect health and aggravate asthma, childhood bronchitis and lung cancer. According to the Directeur de la Santé publique à Montréal, wood smoke contributes to causing 1,500 premature deaths yearly in Montreal.
Sylvain Ouellet, who is the opposition Water, Sustainable Development, Environment, Large Parks and Green Spaces critic, supports the bylaw, but wonders why the deadline for compliance was not put in 2016. “The bipartisan Environment Committee at City Hall unanimously recommended this legislation many months ago. If the Coderre administration had acted sooner, we could have enacted it months ago. Each year we delay could lead to hundreds of deaths.”
Wood heating in Quebec became popular after the 1998 Ice Storm when some homes were without electricity for weeks in the middle of winter. Ouellet mentioned that Hydro Quebec and Montreal are much better prepared for such an event now; he also noted that there is an exemption in the new bylaw permitting all wood stoves should power outages exceed three hours. Ouellet further mentioned that some clean-burning natural gas fireplaces can operate without electricity.
The new bylaw applies to all 19 Montreal boroughs (i.e. Ahuntsic, CDN-NDG,LaSalle, Pierrefonds, etc), but not to de-merged municipalities on Montreal Island (i.e. Baied’Urfé, Dorval, Westmount, etc).
There are an estimated 50,000 functioning wood stoves and fireplaces in Montreal; the new measures could reduce particulate matter pollution by 80 percent reports the Journal de Montreal. Non-compliance may result in fines of up to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for businesses.
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