Montreal officials are looking to transition the city away from the use of natural gas heating and cooking by implementing bylaw restrictions on its use in new small buildings starting next October.
While city leaders acknowledge that the estimated 400 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year that will be saved under the ban are a small portion of the more than 10 million tonnes emitted by the city overall, the fossil fuels ban is being framed as a way to inspire residents and other municipalities to decarbonize their buildings and embrace heating alternatives beyond natural gas.
Montreal’s executive committee approved the new bylaw to restrict natural gas, oil and propane for heating and cooking last week.
“The bylaw on GHG emissions from new buildings represents significant progress in our community’s ecological transition,” said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante in a statement.
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Planted added that the measure will help Montreal reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
The first stage of the ban takes effect October 1, 2024 for new buildings up to three storeys and 600 square metres in area. The ban will come into effect for new, larger buildings on April 1, 2025.
The new bylaw will restrict the use of gas-powered heating systems, hot water systems and items such as stoves and barbecues. Gas-fuelled heaters for pools and spas will also be banned from being installed in smaller new buildings.
Although the new bylaw does not apply to existing buildings, the city plans to introduce mandatory reporting of GHG-emitting appliances in 2024.
Buildings which have not been granted a permit by the announced deadline will be required to build under the new regulations.
“Nature Québec applauds the City of Montreal for this initiative which, we hope, will pave the way for other municipalities committed to the energy transition that Quebec must implement without delay,” announced Emmanuelle Rancourt, energy project manager at Nature Québec, in a statement.
Some exemptions under the new ban include emergency generators, as well as heaters for construction work, commercial appliances in food establishments, and industrial buildings. Buildings that are hooked up to existing urban heating networks will also be exempt.
Outdoor barbecues with propane tanks are also exempt, however those which are hooked up to a propane network or natural gas line will be banned.
Montreal joins a growing list of cities that have banned natural gas for new developments, including Nanaimo, New York City, Seattle, and as recently as September, the small Quebec Town of Prévost.
Vancouver has been en route to a natural gas ban, but final votes to pass the resolution have failed in recent months.
In late 2022, Canada’s Competition Bureau opened an investigation into whether the Canadian Gas Association has falsely claimed natural gas as “clean and affordable.”