Half of Quebec’s municipalities aiming to ban fossil fuel heating in low-rise buildings

Montreal announced a ban on natural gas in new buildings up to three storeys starting in October 2024, with plans to extend the ban to larger new constructions.

Half of Quebec’s municipalities aiming to ban fossil fuel heating in low-rise buildings
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Approximately half of Quebec’s municipalities are set to ban the use of fossil fuels for heating in newly constructed buildings under three storeys by 2025. Larger buildings will still be allowed to use renewable natural gas.

In a press release, the council of the Metropolitan Community of Montreal said that it had passed a resolution to ban the installation of fossil fuel-powered space and water heating in residential, commercial and institutional buildings last month.

Representing 82 municipalities, the council submitted the draft regulations to Quebec’s environment ministry for approval, aiming for them to take effect by January.

Fossil fuel-based heating systems make up 13% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions. That number jumps to 18% when including electricity used for appliances, lighting and cooking.

Montreal announced a ban on natural gas in new buildings up to three storeys starting in October 2024, with plans to extend the ban to larger new constructions.

Heather Exner-Pirot, senior fellow and director of natural resources, energy, and environment with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, told True North the province is set to face “major shortfalls in power supply” over the coming years.

“Hydro-Québec’s most recent strategic plan determined 'unequivocally' that its current capacity is not enough to meet growing demand. Forcing homeowners to rely only on electricity for heating in such a cold climate is dangerous.”

Nanaimo, B.C., announced similar plans last summer, prohibiting new buildings from using natural gas as a primary heating source starting this July.

Statistics Canada reported that last year, about two-thirds of households in Quebec used either electric baseboard heaters or electric radiant heating, while only half of homes in B.C. relied on natural gas for heat.

Winter is, of course, much colder and longer in Quebec than it is in British Columbia.

“One of the major advantages of heating fuels is they can be stored and then discharged to meet surges in demand on very cold days,” said Exner-Pirot.

“Electricity by contrast must be produced and used as soon as it is produced. There is no reason to think the grid can absorb much higher levels of demand. There is no reason to think this will end well.”

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