The City of Montreal is committed to making sure its signature bagel bakeries respect a bylaw on wood smoke, says the executive committee member in charge of environmental issues.
Monday evening, Réal Ménard told a group of residents from Mile End, the neighbourhood that's home to Montreal's two most prominent bagel makers, that the city has options at its disposal, including fines.
Ménard, however, says he's hoping it won't come to that.
"We have a very strong dialogue with those people," Ménard said. "Of course we are very dedicated and very [involved] to make sure they respect the bylaw."
Adopted in 2015, the bylaw says all wood-burning devices must meet strict emissions standards.
The bylaw stipulates that such devices cannot emit more than 2.5 grams of fine particles per hour.
Devices that fall short of that must be replaced or adapted by Oct. 18, 2018, or they can no longer be used.
And during smog alerts, no device of any kind is permitted to burn wood.
Bagel makers committed to change but residents losing patience
Both Fairmount Bagel and St-Viateur Bagel say they're committed to respecting the bylaw and both have taken steps to mitigate the amount fine particles emitted by their wood-burning ovens.
But tests have shown they're still falling short.
That worries Mile End residents such as Sarah Gilbert, who has lived near St-Viateur Bagel since 1995.
Smoke coming through her window is a common occurrence that she used to accept as part of living in Mile End, "the bagel neighbourhood," as she called it.
She's since learned that wood smoke has carcinogenic properties and can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory conditions, especially in the young and old.
Gilbert says she's had serious concerns for air quality and its effect on public health in the densely populated neighbourhood going back to 2007, but nothing has changed.
"We've been waiting a long time to see some actual results," she said.
"What's the point in having standards if the city can't enforce them?"
Gilbert says she would prefer less talk from the city, and more results.
"I'm not against bagels — I think they should be clean bagels," she said.
"I don't think they should get a free pass just because they've been around a long time."