Bothered by the bagels: residents fed up with air quality near famous bakeries
There's not much debate in about how great Montreal bagels taste -- but there is continued concern about how baking the doughy delights in wood-fired ovens affects our health and the environment.
The fight to reduce emissions from fireplaces and wood-fired ovens has continued for many years in Montreal.
Now that strict limits on fine particulate matter have been put into place, some residents living in Mile End near the city's most famous bagel shops are growing impatient about the fact that the bakeries continue to exceed the limits and break the rules.
“The first time I had a big asthma crisis, since then I had to close my windows in the summer when the wind comes from southwest,” said Francois Grenier, who lives near Fairmount Bagel.
Grenier has been fighting to reduce the fine particle emissions for 20 years.
The owners of St-Viateur Bagel, which just celebrated 60 years in business, told CTV they are taking the complaints seriously and have spent at least $250,000 so far on engineers and equipment to try and solve the problem.
“Initially when they came in 2010, at the time we were burning hard wood. We were twice above the limit. Since then we changed to eco-logs and we reduced the emissions by 70 per cent and so we're 30 per cent above the emissions,” said owner Robert Morena, adding that they pledge to solve the problem entirely by early next year at the latest.
“The technologies to clean the smoke exist. The obstacle is to tailor it to a small bakery,” he explained. "We actually have a solution. We ordered the filter - now it's just a matter of getting it running."
The owner of other famous bagel business, Fairmount Bagel, was not available to speak with CTV Friday.
Local residents said while there has been an improvement in air quality over the years, they've heard the owners' promises before and feel enough is enough.
“Yes, we have to say that there is some improvement but that's not enough and frankly our patience is gone totally,” said Grenier. “We feel that we have done all that we could. We made complaints, we talked with the engineers, engineers of the city, we got in contact with politicians, but it's not moving fast enough.”
They say their health and the health of children in the area is suffering.
Morena said he understands their concern.
“I think they have a right to be concerned and we've always done our best at St-Viateur to be good corporate citizens. We are local, so not only do we work here, my brother lives in the area, my nephews live in the area, our family lives here, my employees, so we're all in, we're here to fix the problem,” he said.
Projet Montreal councillor Alex Norris weighed in.
"Ultimately, we need the air quality division of the central city administration to take its responsibilities and to follow these issues. To drag their feet less," he said.
Residents plan on raising the issue before Montreal's city council on Monday night.