On August 12th, 2015, Montréal presented a new bylaw restricting the use of most wood-burning appliances, thus imposing a new, stricter standard due to health concerns surrounding their emissions. Wood-burning appliances in Montréal have been a main player in the case of smog pollution, according to many recent studies. In light of this, the city has introduced the most stringent program in North America, after determining that 39 percent of the city’s smog problem, during the winter, is directly related to this type of heating equipment.
This falls right behind vehicles, at 45 percent, which has Montréal somewhat worried about their air quality index. Any property owner refusing to cooperate with the bylaw by not reporting or replacing their wooden stove or fireplace within the next three years, will be subject to a fine of up to $2000. The new standard, starting on October 1, 2018, will lower and restrict the acceptable release of fine particulate matter by any wood-burning appliance to 2.5 grams per hour. City inspectors will be deployed to ensure that no appliance operates above this norm, and there seems to be no getting away as the city already holds municipal plans, which contain the location of most of these appliances anyway.
This requirement is a significant decrease from the United States Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Act’s requirement of no greater than 4.5 grams per hour and the American standard is only for newly manufactured units whereas the Montréal bylaw will affect both old and new. To give a better picture of the situation, regular wooden stoves emit ten to twenty grams of fine particulate matter per hour. An estimated 50 000 homeowners with wooden stoves or fireplaces will be required to submit detailed specifications of their equipment’s functionality within 120 days of the enactment.
Nevertheless, commercial establishments that require the use of the wooden appliance to keep their business afloat, such as pizza parlours, will be exempt from the bylaw. It may seem like a strong imposition on Montréal’s homeowners, however, it is actually a step down from the original bylaw proposal from April, which moved to impose a limit of 1.3 grams per hour and completely eliminate all wood-burning appliances in Montréal by the year 2020.
It will be interesting to see how Montreal responds. With increasing discussions surrounding climate change recently, this really did not come as a very big surprise. Electric heating offers a safe, renewable, and, in the case due to Québec’s rich hydro-electric generation plants, cost-friendly alternative to traditional wood-burning appliances. Many electrical suppliers and distributors are now looking to move in on this opportunity as there will be an expected demand from the homeowners whose equipment will not meet code. The average cost for replacing a wooden stove or fireplace ranges between $2000-$8000.
Gas-fired heating also presents an alternative to this new bylaw, however, gas is significantly more expensive than burning wood, especially nowadays and looking into the future. This is why wood-burning appliances are desirable; because they are an investment that pay for themselves down the road in energy savings. However, with increased and fluctuating gas prices, the best option easily becomes electric heating. This is why it’s expected that electric heating will rise among these three options, especially for the average homeowner in Québec that has two years to replace his or her stove or fireplace. The installation and maintenance of electric heating products requires very low cost, effort and time, in comparison.
Usually, electric heaters are simply plugged into the wall and do not require extensive cleaning as a wooden fireplace would. In addition, they offer great flexibility and are highly reliable. Gas-fired units can present an explosive hazard as well, whereas going with electric heating eliminates that worry. Marley Engineered Products, offered in Ontario through Belnor Engineering Inc, for example, offers a wide array of heating product lines, including Fahrenheit, QMark, and Leading Edge, for various different types of applications, ranging from residential to commercial. All in all, it is refreshing to see some movement towards better air quality and environmental awareness in Montréal as the climate change buzz has continued to spark many new and relevant discussions, adaptations, and innovative designs in the heating and ventilation industry.