The City of Westmount has identified sustainable development as essential to keeping Westmount vibrant. For this reason, it has launched a sustainability initiative, to include both municipal departments and the community.
A sustainable community is one that meets the needs of the current generation without compromising future generations and other species.
Turn the engine off, and breathe easier!
Our environment needs our help
Climate change is now a fact of life. Temperatures are rising, air quality alerts are commonplace, polar ice caps are receding, violent weather is the norm, and we are part of the problem.
Westmounters continue to spew noxious fumes into the air as we idle our vehicles. It can be a shopper stopped on Greene Avenue, a parent waiting in front of a school, or a resident turning on the car engine from the living room, thanks to that all-too-handy remote car starter. Leaving a vehicle engine idling for an extended period is costly to the environment and to you. It poisons the air we breathe and wastes money and fuel. It’s also illegal.
Special signs like these are found near schools and in commercial areas. When you see one, remember to turn your engine off when parked.
A complete ban is in effect between June 15th and September 1st of every year, except for infestations that pose a threat to human health. Outside of the ban period, pesticide treatments are prohibited outside buildings, unless the products used are bio-pesticides as defined by the Agence de réglemention de la lutte antiparasitaire, or active ingredients authorized in the Code de gestion des pesticides du Québec. Each treatment requires a permit, which is always preceded by a visit from a Westmount inspector. Treatment must be carried out under specific controls, including notification of neighbors, site preparation, favorable weather conditions and signage.
The application of pesticides is prohibited:
- in zones defined as being sensitive and within a radius of 5 meters of such areas. They include the following: daycare centers and schools, health and social services establishments, senior’s residences, places of worship, all municipal parks and green spaces;
- between June 15 and September 1 of each year, except in cases of infestation* that is a threat to public health;
- on trees during their blooming period;
- when it has not rained for seven (7) consecutive days.
The use of pesticides outside buildings is prohibited. Despite the prohibition, some products may be used in certain exceptional situations all of which are out-lined in the by-law:
- in swimming pools and decorative ponds or self-contained artificial basins;
- for an infestation* (see sidebar)
- within a radius of 5m of warehouses and food company factories to ensure vermin control;
- around door and window frames for spider control;
- and on the bases of buildings and within a 30cm strip around it, for ant control.
It costs $10 for an individual and $25 for a corporation to purchase a permit. Applications for a permit must be made at the Public Works department located at 1 Bethune, (514) 989-5268;
A pesticide permit shall only be valid for three (3) working days from its date of issue;
When a repeat treatment is required, a new permit must be obtained and at least 21 days must pass between applications;
Once a permit has been granted the application can be carried out under strict conditions regarding:
- the times when the pesticide may be applied;
- the mandatory distance from a watercourse or a body of water;
- weather conditions, including the smog factor and periods of drought;
- information to be given to neighbours, before, during and after the pesticide is applied;
The user must also:
- remove toys, bicycles, wading pools and other equipment used by children;
- take the necessary measures to ensure that vegetable gardens and pools nearby are protected from contamination.
An infestation is defined as the presence of insects, mildew or other toxic agents, except noxious weeds, on more than 50% of a lawn area or on more than 5m2 of a plant bed area. There is also an infestation where the presence of noxious weeds, insects, mildew or other toxic agents, whatever their extent, constitutes a safety hazard, a health hazard, a tree or shrub hazard, or an animal health hazard.
Ragweed is a quick-spreading, annual plant native to North America. SubmitIts pollen is the number one cause of hay fever and other seasonal respiratory allergies.
Medically speaking, ragweed pollen stimulates antibody production, which triggers the release of histamine in the body. Histamines, in turn, cause nasal congestion, tearing eyes, chronic sneezing and itchy nose and throat. Severity varies with the individual, but repeat attacks may lead to the onset of asthma and/or secondary infections that can cause sinusitis, headaches, and insomnia.
The Direction de la santé publique de Montréal estimates that 10 per cent of Quebec’s population suffers from allergies caused by ragweed. In addition, according to a study conducted by the Direction de la santé publique de Montréal and the Comité de santé environnementale du Québec, Quebecers spend at least 50 million dollars a year on consultation, treatment, medication and transportation related to ragweed allergies.
What does ragweed look like?
This annual plant looks quite harmless and resembles most other weeds. Common ragweed reaches an average height of 70 cm (or just over 2 feet). Its hairy stem is crowned by narrow, grayish-green leaves with jagged edges. During the months of June and July, the plant sprouts tiny green flowers clustered in the shape of a spike at the end of the stems. In August, the flowers bloom, releasing billions of pollen grains into the air.
Where does it grow?
Ragweed takes hold quickly and can grow in practically any type of soil. You will find it around sidewalk edges, railroad rights-of-way, back lanes, exposed rock crevices, construction sites, vacant lots, or even in the back of your garden.
Are you allergic?
When eaten raw, certain foods (melon, banana, cucumber) can cause reactions in persons who are allergic to ragweed. This phenomenon is called “cross-reactivity”. The main symptom is a tingling sensation around the mouth and in your throat.
Tips for minimizing hay fever symptoms
- Avoid outdoor activities when the concentration of pollen in the air is high, particularly between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. Limit your outdoor activities at the end of the day when ragweed pollen is less abundant, or after a rain shower, while pollen grains are still stuck to the ground.
- Avoid mowing the lawn yourself and coming into contact with other irritants, such as tobacco smoke.
- Use air conditioning or an air filter.
How do I get rid of ragweed?
In Westmount, all residents are responsible for ensuring that there is no ragweed on their own property.
- If there are just a few plants, simply pull them up or mow them. Be careful, however, as timing is important. Only mow over ragweed during the months of June or July, before it flowers. Otherwise, mowing will only spread the pollen further, making the problem worse. Ragweed plants can also be disposed of in Westmount’s curbside garden waste collection every Wednesday from April to November.
- Mow your garden (or have it mown) evenly, on a regular basis, especially at the edge of your property, taking care to fill in any bare spots.
- Sow new plant species that will compete with the ragweed, and prevent it from taking hold.
If you find ragweed along a City street or back lane, or in a public green space in Westmount, you should contact the Public Works Department immediately to request that it be removed.
Why collect rainwater?
For the garden
Plants benefit from naturally ‘soft’ rainwater with a balanced pH; it’s also non-chlorinated and free of minerals.
It’s a handy a reserve of water during periods of drought and watering restrictions.
For property protection
- Diverting rainwater reduces the risk of sewer backup and basement flooding during extreme precipitation events FOR SAVINGS
- Conserving drinking water means savings in energy and in the cost of treating water and wastewater;
- Reducing risks from water damage has a positive impact on insurance rates FOR THE ENVIRONMENT – Recycled barrels reduce landfills;
- The use of rainwater reduces the risk of stormwater overflows being released untreated into the St. Lawrence River.
Finding a rain barrel
Rain barrels are available in garden centres, hardware stores, environment specialty stores and online.
There are also many plans and instructions available on internet to build rain barrels or convert other containers into rain barrels.
Choose the right one
Make sure the rain barrel has the following features:
- a lockable childproof lid;
- a mosquito-proof screen in the lid;
- a spigot or tap at the bottom;
- an overflow valve near the top.
Look for locally-made rain barrels recycled from industrial food containers.
What is a sustainability vision statement?
A vision statement expresses, in broad terms, a view of the desired future. The vision statement must be a compelling image to provide direction and support of goals and actions. Most communities that have decided to make sustainable development a priority have developed a vision statement. Sustainable development projects generally start with some sort of public process to develop a vision.
A vision statement acts as a guide for the development of actions and policies. It is designed to inspire people and portray an end-state of a sustainable community. It is a statement of how the community should be at some future date.
The Sustainable Westmount Vision Statement portrays a city that meets the needs of current generations without compromising future generations and other species.
One vision for the future
Residents like you provided thoughtful new ideas to the visioning process.
Sustainable Westmount Vision Statement
Adopted on February 2, 2009
Westmount strives for sustainable development, which relates to the fabric of our community, the natural environment, the economy, public health and our heritage.
Community vision: We build a sense of responsibility and engagement – toward each other, other communities, and the peoples of the rest of the world..
Environmental vision: We are stewards of the natural environment – locally, regionally and globally. We acknowledge the need to work creatively to balance human needs with those of the Earth’s ecosystems.
Economic vision: We are part of an environmentally and socially conscious economy based on the prudent and socially responsible use of natural and human resources.
Public health vision: We provide mutual respect, and support human health and dignity in all of its aspects: physical, mental and social.
Heritage vision: We appreciate a strong sense of place and history, and work to preserve our distinctive landscape and built environment so they can endure over time.
To realize this vision, our elected officials and city employees collaborate with all the people who live, work, and learn in Westmount in order to meet our present needs without compromising the future.
In Westmount, implementing sustainable development will be based on the following values.
- Strive for continuous improvement toward sustainability
- Reduce, reuse and recycle resources
- Promote sustainable construction and renovation
- Incorporate mindfulness towards the environment
- Take climate change into consideration
- Work toward zero waste, zero emissions and net-zero energy consumption
- Endorse cyclical renewability of resource use and consumption
- Maintain cultural and architectural preservation
- Encourage a healthy lifestyle
- Provide leadership
- Manage the human-made environment
- Aim for energy-descent planning, recognizing that fossil fuels will become less available
- Support inter-generational equity
On March 2, 2015, Westmount City Council unanimously adopted a resolution at its public meeting declaring that its citizens have a right to a healthy environment.
Through this action, Westmount joined other cities across Canada as a participant in the Blue Dot movement, which calls on all levels of government to recognize the importance of clean air, clean water and safe food for its citizens.
Find out more about the Blue Dot movement by visiting www.bluedot.ca.
DECLARATION – THE RIGHT TO A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT
WHEREAS the City of Westmount understands that people are part of the environment, and that a healthy environment is inextricably linked to the well-being of our community;
THE CITY OF WESTMOUNT finds and declares that:
1. All people have the right to live in a healthy environment, including:
- The right to breathe clean air;
- The right to drink clean water;
- The right to consume safe food;
- The right to access nature;
- The right to know about pollutants and contaminants released into the local environment;
- The right to participate in decision-making that will affect the environment.
2. The City of Westmount has the responsibility, within its jurisdiction, to respect, protect, fulfill and promote these rights.
3. The City of Westmount shall apply the precautionary principle: where threats of serious or irreversible damage to human health or the environment exist, the City of Westmount shall take cost effective measures to prevent the degradation of the environment and protect the health of its citizens. Lack of full scientific certainty shall not be viewed as sufficient reason for the City of Westmount to postpone such measures.
4. The City of Westmount shall apply full cost accounting: when evaluating reasonably foreseeable costs of proposed actions and alternatives, the City of Westmount will consider costs to human health and the environment.
5. That the City of Westmount commits to specify, by January 1, 2017 at the latest, the objectives, targets, time frames and actions it will adopt to ensure respect of its citizens’ right to a healthy environmental, including actions to:
- Ensure equitable distribution of environmental benefits and burdens within the municipality, preventing the development of pollution “hot spots”;
- Ensure infrastructure and development projects to protect the environment, including air quality;
- Address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and implementing adaptation measures;
- Responsibly increase density;
- Prioritize walking, cycling and public transit as preferred modes of transportation;
- Ensure adequate infrastructure for the provision of safe and accessible drinking water;
- Promote the availability of safe foods;
- Reduce solid waste and promote recycling and composting;
- Establish and maintain accessible green spaces in all residential neighborhoods.
The City of Westmount shall review the objectives, targets, timelines and actions every five (5) years, and evaluate progress towards fulfilling this declaration. As much as possible, the City of Westmount shall consult with residents as part of this process.