A tough new bylaw on wood-burning appliances in Montreal homes takes effect on Monday.
Any domestic wood-burning fireplaces or appliances emitting more than 2.5 grams per hour of fine particulate will be banned in all 19 Montreal boroughs — and those who defy the bylaw could face fines up to $2,000.
Fireplaces owned by businesses aren’t affected.
The change is keeping companies in charge of chimney services, like Foyer Lambert, busy. Connie Romeo, who manages Foyer Lambert, said she is swamped with calls from clients seeking fixes to their fireplaces to meet regulations.
“We’re already booked for installs,” she told Global News, adding the company is busy until November.
“We’ve never seen this — being booked two months in advance.”
The bylaw marks the next phase of a wood-burning ban that came into effect in 2015. Homeowners were given three years to make sure their solid fuel-burning appliances met the new emissions standards.
For Montrealers who have a fireplace or appliance older than 10 years old, they will likely have to make changes under the new bylaw.
“From what we’ve seen, a lot of them are more than 2.5 grams of emissions,” Romeo said. “They’re at 3, 3.5. Even if your fireplace, your wood-burning unit, is at 2.6 grams of emissions, you will not be allowed to burn it as of Oct. 1”
One option is to place an insert into an old fireplace, which will reduce the emissions to the new standard. Another is to replace it with a gas fireplace.
What about banning diesel?
Some people, including a former city councillor, say there are better ways to fight pollution and smog in winter.
Susan Clarke says she voted against the bylaw years ago when it was first proposed.
“Particulate, which is the thing that the fireplace ban is all about, allows smog to be created,” she said. “And banning diesel engines from the island of Montreal would do a better job of clearing the smog problem.”
Clarke will get an insert for her old fireplace so that she can continue to burn wood, but she said some NDG residents are upset about having to make changes.
“Not everybody is going to be able to afford to spend a few thousand dollars on getting an insert,” she said.
Some of the units Romeo sells are as much as $3,000. With installation, the cost can exceed $5,000.
Montreal city authorities say a ban on diesel is more complicated.
“And automobile engines, including diesel, create 45 per cent of emissions. Banning diesel is the responsibility of the federal government.”
He said the city is happy so far with the response of residents because most have already registered their wood-burning units, which is mandatory even if they meet the new emission standard. Only about 3,000 have not yet done so.
— with files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise