Asbestos: Westmount leads by example

A report that aired on Radio-Canada’s Enquête revealed that workers are sometimes unwillingly exposed to asbestos, the “Killer Behind the Walls”. Asbestos becomes a health hazard when it is uncovered or friable.

The City of Westmount is leading by example and taking the necessary measures, according to the investigation. Before undertaking a renovation project, residents are obliged to prove that the building was tested for asbestos. “They don’t have a choice. If they don’t do it, they don’t get their permit,” said Chris Rogers, Chief Inspector for the City of Westmount.

Every home or business owner must take the necessary steps to protect the health of anyone living or working on the premises, according to the health and safety laws in Quebec.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos refers to certain fibrous minerals used in construction. It is known for its resistance to heat, fire, chemicals and electrical current and for its absorbency. Asbestos is also a known carcinogen when free fibres are breathed in.

Many homes built before 1980 contain asbestos in old floor tiles, ceiling tiles, roof shingles, traditional plaster, siding, insulation (around boilers, ducts, pipes, fireplaces), pipe cement and joint compound.


In Westmount, insulating materials are presumed to contain asbestos unless otherwise proven by*:

  • a technical description which establishes the composition of flocking and heat insulating material used in the building or proof of the date of their installation; or
  • A sampling report.

*Gypsum boards and joint compounds manufactured after January 1st, 1980 are deemed not to contain asbestos.