Montreal's famous bagel shops under fire for wood-burning ovens
Josh Dehaas, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, September 22, 2017 6:44PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, September 24, 2017 9:05AM EDT
Montreal residents are going before city council on Monday to demand a ban on wood-burning ovens at several famous bagel shops because they say not enough has been done to address air pollution.
Francois Grenier, who lives on the same block where Fairmount Bagels has stood since 1949, says he has been asking the city to deal with the wood-burning ovens for more than 20 years.
“I’m suffering,” he says. “The first time I had a big asthma crisis. Since then I had to close my windows in the summer when the wind was coming from southwest, so I’m living in air-conditioning.”
Grenier says he thinks that wood-fired bagel production should be banned from Mile End, the neighbourhood made famous in Mordecai Richler's novel “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” and popular with tourists.
Although Grenier says he’s seen some improvements to air quality over the years it is “not enough,” adding, “frankly our patience has gone.”
"We made complaints, we talked with the engineers at the city, we got in contact with politicians, but it's not moving fast enough," he said.
At nearby St. Viateur Bagels, the owners say they have been working diligently to solve the problem since 2010, when the city found they were emitting roughly double the acceptable limit of particulates.
Robert Morena, co-owner of St. Viateur, says the business has spent around $250,000 on engineers and technology to fix the problem, while also switching from burning hard wood to "eco-logs."
"We reduced the emissions by 70 percent," he said. That's still about 30 per cent above the city’s emission standards, according to Morena, but he says they will have a filter in place by early next year that should further reduce emissions.
City councilor Alex Norris said he wants the city’s air quality regulators “to drag their feet less.”
“We love these businesses and we want them to stay and to flourish, but they can't be operating at the expense of public health,” Norris said.
With a report from CTV Montreal's Cindy Sherwin