New rules for wood-burning stoves are likely not strong enough to make a significant difference to air quality in Quebec, says a leading environmentalist.
This week the provincial government announced new regulations for wood stoves that will take effect Sept. 1.
Any new stove made, distributed or sold in Quebec after that date must meet environmental standards set out by the Canadian Standards Association or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
But there is no outright ban on wood stoves — a move the City of Montreal made earlier this year to curb air pollution.
Quebec Environment Minister Line Beauchamp said the regulations will go a long way to standardizing wood stoves in the province.
But Quebec's new rules mean any future housing projects will probably include wood stoves, at a time when Quebecers should be thinking twice about using that kind of combustible heat, said André Bélisle, president of the Quebec Association Against Air Pollution.
"Almost everywhere now, every new house will include a wood stove, and if you're in Rivières-des-Prairies, or in many other areas in Quebec where problems are really acute, then we have to stop this, because it's only adding more problems to a very serious situation," he told CBC News.
"We would like to see in areas where we have serious problems … an obligation to stop adding new stoves," or banning them altogether, given how much they contribute to air pollution, Bélisle said.
Quebec came up with the environmental regulations after studying wood stoves for more than a year.
The government estimates there are about a million stoves in the province, and more than 45,000 are added every year through new housing development.
Wood stoves became popular in Quebec after the 1998 ice storm, when the province's hydro grid was severely damaged.
Environment Canada estimates about 47 per cent of the fine particulate matter in Quebec's air is generated by fireplaces and wood stoves.