Quebec City enacts ban on wood-burning stoves, fireplaces in middle of winter

Quebec City residents were barred from using wood-burning stoves and fireplaces for two days as the city implemented a temporary ban due to deteriorating air quality.

“The City of Quebec will prohibit the use of all solid-fuel-burning appliances throughout its territory from 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, until the lifting of this notice,” the municipality said in a post on X.

The city lifted the ban on Friday at6 a.m.

Responding to the city’s post to X, one resident raised his concerns.

“A notice is not a law. The end. Do not comply! Don’t be an accomplice to abuse through ignorance,” wrote the user, in a mix of both official languages.

The city responded to the citizen on its X post.

“The notice stems from a bylaw adopted by Quebec City. Since September 2021, when a smog issue is issued for Quebec City, it is forbidden to use any solid-fuel heating appliance… including all types of fireplaces, even if certified. First-time offenders are liable to a fine of $300 to $1,000.” 

However, according to the Journal de Québec, city spokesperson Jean-Pascal Lavoie said that no fines are to be expected. He said that despite normally charging $300 to $1000 for a first-time offender, city officials are focusing only on raising awareness. 

“Atmospheric and meteorological conditions are conducive to a deterioration in air quality on the territory of Quebec City. As a result, the city has decreed a preventive ban on the use of any solid-fuel-burning appliance, even if certified, in order to limit the emission of fine particles and other pollutants into the air,” said Lavoie.  

People who rely solely on burning wood to heat their homes are exempt from the ban. 

The decision comes as Quebec City’s PM2.5 concentration is 1.9 times higher than the annual air quality guideline value recommended by the WHO. The PM2.5 concentration measurement scale quantifies the concentration of particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter in the air, indicating the level of fine particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs and affect human health. 

IQAir measures air quality based on submissions from public contributors.

Canada measured as a whole has a PM2.5 concentration 1.5 times higher than WHO recommendations, as of Thursday. According to IQAir, the city with the worst air quality in the country is Whitehorse, with a PM2.5 concentration 6.1 times higher than WHO recommendations. 

In 2022, Schefferville, Quebec, had the lowest PM2.5 concentration in the country. The current city with the lowest is Campbell River, British Columbia.

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