Ahuntsic-Cartierville votes to ban new wood ovens in restaurants

Politicians in the borough included a grandfather clause, allowing restaurants already in operation to keep their wood ovens.

Ban includes grandfather clause for eateries already in operation

Restaurateurs who want to use wood-burning ovens won't able to open up shop in Montreal's Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough.

The borough council voted to ban such ovens Monday, but their motion included a grandfather clause to allow restaurants with wood-burning ovens already in operation to keep them.

"Many residents came to the borough council meeting to say they couldn't open their windows in the summer or hang their clothes to dry," said borough Mayor Émilie Thuillier.

Blaise Comerci, a chef at Grill N Go restaurant, said the rule is ridiculous. His restaurant specializes in grilled chicken and ribs.

"I'm fed up. When you go to Italy, there aren't propane ovens," he said.

Bélo Mabé, co-owner of Tropic-Léo market on Fleury Street, said he would have preferred a less radical measure.

"The city asks us to do something, we do it, we respect it. We change our filters, we clean and we repair. We're careful, we want people to live well, but we want to continue on," she said.

Making changes

The Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, whose territory includes many restaurants that use wood ovens, wants to bring in a similar rule. It would also include a grandfather clause.

The Plante administration, which has already discussed introducing city-wide regulations to govern wood-burning ovens next year, now says it does not want to hurt economic activity.

In the coming months, it will bring together restaurant owners who use wood-burning ovens to discuss the impact on air quality.

St-Viateur Bagel has developed a hybrid oven now in use at its West Island location that is 90 per cent gas-powered. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Montreal's public health agency is looking into 40 establishments that use wood-burning ovens in downtown Montreal and on the Plateau Mont-Royal to see how their emissions are affecting air quality. A report is expected by Christmas.

Some restaurateurs have already started to prepare for a change.

St-Viateur Bagel, for example, has developed a hybrid oven that is 90 per cent gas-powered, reducing emissions from the burning wood while still providing the sought-after taste.

With files from Radio-Canada's Benoît Chapdelaine, Julie Marceau and Mathieu Prost