Mile End residents raise concerns over smoke from beloved bagel bakeries
St-Viateur's Nick Morena says his bagel shop is committed to reducing emissions, filtering out particles
While Mile End has been a hotspot for traditional Montreal-style bagels for more than half a century, some residents are becoming concerned with the health and environmental risks associated with baking the tasty classic.
Carcinogens associated with wood smoke from shops like St-Viateur Bagel and Fairmount Bagel Bakery have become an increasing matter of public concern in recent years, said resident Sarah Gilbert.
But Nick Morena, whose family owns St-Viateur Bagel, told CBC's Daybreak that wood is an essential part of the Montreal-style bagel-making process.
A group of Mile End residents, including Gilbert, is planning on heading to a city council meeting on Monday to voice their complaints and put more pressure on the city to enforce air quality regulations.
'We all love our bagels'
Gilbert's main concern is the various negative health and environmental effects of wood smoke. The smoke releases toxic chemicals like benzene and can contribute to respiratory ailments like asthma.
Smoke from burning wood accounts for nearly 40 per cent of fine particle pollution, according to the city. It is also a major cause of winter smog.
"We all love our bagels," Gilbert said. "Joe Morena and his family and his sons, they want to do the right thing. But it's complicated and expensive."
Gilbert, who has lived on Waverley Street since 1995, wants the city to ban wood burning until a clean way of doing it is discovered. She added that with or without wood, the bagels will taste great.
She also claims that the city doesn't crack down on businesses that are above the emissions limit, adding they are allowed to operate as usual.
"What's the point of having laws if they're not enforced?" Gilbert said.
A borough councillor for the area did not immediately return a request for comment.
St-Viateur Bagel taking steps
For St-Viateur Bagel, one of Montreal's most prominent bagel bakeries, the goal is to keep the process the same, but filter the particles out from the smoke itself.
The company has been in contact with engineers and consultants regarding a process to filter out carcinogens — this should be underway soon, said Morena.
In 2010, the city tested St-Viateur's ovens and decreed the company was over the emission limit, Morena said.
"Since then we've been very committed and very reactive to reduce our emissions," Morena said.
With files from CBC's Daybreak