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New wood burning device by-law will improve air quality in Ste. Anne’s

By John Jantak


Following the lead set by the City of Montreal, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is implementing stricter emission guidelines for all wood-burning units over the next five years.

Reduced air quality from fine particulates emitted from old non-compliant wood burning stoves and fireplaces during the winter months prompted a Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue resident who lives in the north sector of the city to ask council what it intends to do to improve the situation.

“At certain times of the year, the air becomes downright unbreathable and even with all the windows closed, particles seep into the home causing asthma attacks, headaches and respiratory distress,” the resident wrote in a question that was submitted before the start of the monthly council meeting Monday, December 7.

Respiratory disease

The resident, who isn’t named, stated he has been living in north sector since 1983 and suffers from lung disease. He asked the city to implement regulations to curb the emission of fine particulates sooner than the five-year grace period currently allowed by the city.

The grace period is meant to give residents time to convert or upgrade their current wood-burning and other solid fuel burning devices to new devices that comply with the city’s revised regulations, but not everyone agrees with the city’s intentions.

Not all residents agree

“We had a comment from another resident who felt we shouldn’t be applying any sort of restrictions on wood burning devices,” Mayor Paola Hawa told The Journal. “Half the population wants one thing and the other half wants another. What we’re doing is a step forward. Hopefully people will become accustomed to this idea and within five years we’ll be able to move forward.

“This is the direction the City of Montreal has taken when they adopted new regulations about two or three years ago. We’re a little bit behind in terms of adopting any kind of regulations that control emissions. We’re behind Montreal in terms of the rigidity regarding the levels they imposed. They’re a lot stricter than we are but we need to start somewhere,” Hawa added.

Leaded gasoline ban

The mayor compared the imposition of its new regulations regarding wood burning devices to when the federal government decided to ban leaded gasoline throughout Canada in 1990. “Everybody knew leaded fuels weren’t good for the environment and there were certain negative repercussions. It took everyone time to adopt to the new standard,” said Hawa.

Compliance to the city’s new regulations won’t happen overnight which is why the city imposed a five-year grace period to give residents time to comply. The mayor added she has a wood burning stove herself and is also affected by the new regulations imposed by city council.

Second largest cause of air pollution

“In terms of air quality and pollution, wood burning stoves and any kind of solid fuel burning device is the second largest cause of air pollution on the Island of Montreal. It’s only eclipsed by transport. There definitely is an issue and it has to be addressed. You can’t just put your head in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist,” said Hawa.

“It’s not as if you can contain the air above Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue,” she added. “Pollutants come in from the off-island municipalities. It all needs to be regulated. Montreal has done its bit, we’re doing our bit and hopefully in time the off-island municipalities will do their bit as well.”

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