Montreal's Vital Signs 2010
As worrisome as they are, greenhouse gas emissions from personal vehicles are lower in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada. But the rate of recycling organic matter is discouraging.
  • The Greater Montreal territory of 4,360 km2 encompasses 24% of wooded land and 12% of water. And half of all spawning occurs in the Montreal section of the Saint-Lawrence River (with the exception of the estuary). 1
  • Montreal is one of the Canadian cities with the least amount of green space per inhabitant. Between 1986 and 1994, half of the forests on the island were wiped out by development. Between 1994 and 2001, 750 additional hectares were lost to development. Historically, it is estimated that the disappearance of 90% of the island’s forests led to the loss of 60% of its biodiversity. Montreal has 48 vulnerable or endangered green species, Laval has 30, and in Greater Montreal, 63 plant species have disappeared, or are in the process of doing so. 1

  • In 2004, 3.2% of the land on the island was designated as a protected natural area, while the international norm is 6%. In 2010, Montreal was at 5.2%. 1
  • There are approximately one hundred ‘green’ roofs on the island, of which three-quarters were built in the last five years. The green trend is slowly catching on. 1
  • From 2001 to 2008, in Greater Montreal, the average July temperature was 26.9ºC (an increase of 1.6º compared with 1971-2000) and -14º in January (a decrease of 0.2º). Overall, the average annual temperature increased by 1˚ between the two periods. Among Canadian cities, only Toronto experienced a larger increase (1.4º). 2
  • Urban density is much less harmful to the environment than urban sprawl, which necessitates more movement and contributes to more greenhouse gas emissions. In 2006, with 58% of its population living within average density zones, Greater Montreal was second to Toronto (64%). Sixteen percent of the region’s population live in high density areas, the highest rate of any large Canadian city, including Toronto (11%). 3
  • In 2007, Greater Montreal emitted 1,219 kg of CO2 per capita, or 21.3% less greenhouse gas attributable to personal vehicles than in the average Canadian city. 4

  • Between 2001 and 2008, Greater Montreal experienced an annual average of 11.5 days of poor air quality. That’s more than in Ottawa (9.4), Calgary and Vancouver (1.1), but much less than in Toronto (20.2). 5
  • In 2006, daily water consumption in Greater Montreal homes rose to 417.5 litres per resident, 18 litres more than in 2001. 6
  • Garbage recovered on the island [recyclables and organics] increased 26% between 2004 and 2008, while the tonnage of garbage (household waste] decreased by 5%. Overall, the total amount of individual garbage produced increased by 7%.7

Individual Production of Garbage Collected Door-To-Door*
Source: City of Montreal 7, 8
* Excluding waste that citizens take to recycling facilities and special waste collection items.
N.B. Because of municipal amalgamations, 2004 data applies to the region, as well as to the city.

  • From 2002 to 2004, household waste from door-to-door collection to be destroyed rose by close to 20 kg per Montreal resident to 347 kg. Between 2004 and 2006, on the island, this amount stabilized at a lower level, and between 2006 and 2008, it experienced a marked decline. 7, 8
  • In 2008, every resident on the island produced 330 kg of household waste. 9

Types of Recyclable Matter Left by Residents for Curbside Pickup *
Island, 2008
Types of Recyclable Matter Left by Residents for Curbside Pickup
Sources: Recyc-Québec and Ville de Montréal 9
* Excluding waste that citizens take to recycling facilities and special waste collection items.
  • From 2004 to 2008, the amount of organic matter collected on the island increased (+12.2%), as did recyclable matter (+37.5%), dangerous household waste (+182%), and bulky residue or residential construction matter (+200.7%). 7
  • Overall, some 300,000 tonnes of garbage were collected on the island in 2008, approximately 30% of the total generated by residents. And 84% of the remaining waste was disposed of at off-island sites. Regarding organic matter, which comprises half of all household waste, only 8% is currently recovered, while the goal is to reach 60% by 2014. 9

  • In 2007, in Greater Montreal, only 11% of households composted table waste, while Ottawa (26%) and Vancouver (28%) composted more than one quarter of all waste, while Toronto was well ahead of other Canadian cities (63%). 10

Household Energy and Water Savings
CMA, 2007
Source: Statistics Canada 11

University of Montreal
dotThe idea sounds far-fetched. In several years, once the soil from the old train yard in Outremont is decontaminated, the University of Montreal plans to build a community tree nursery. When the University is ready to proceed with the project, hardwoods will be planted in surrounding neighbourhoods. This isn’t a new idea: it has already been implemented on a smaller scale by several schools and communities throughout Quebec. However, this will be a first for a project of this magnitude. 12

Les amis de la montagne
dotThe mountain and the river weave close and vital and relationships for a large portion of the population of the island. In the majority of cities in the world, water is distributed by water towers, reservoirs perched at the summit of a tower overlooking the community. These facilities are expensive and unsightly. In Montreal, Mount Royal, thanks to its central location and altitude, serves as a water tower. Drawn 610 metres from the river upstream of the Lachine Rapids, the water is first sent by four concrete pipes to two treatment plants. Once drinkable, some of the water is pumped into six reservoirs dug into the mountain and, by gravity, the water supply exerts the necessary pressure to maintain the flow through the entire distribution network. The area covered by each tank is identified on the surface by the colour of the hydrant heads. To distribute the water to taps, the network has more than 2,700 km of piping, which is equal to the distance between Montreal and Winnipeg. 13
© Consortium Évolution
Consortium …volution
dotConsortium Évolution is an organization dedicated to educating young people about environmental challenges. The aim of the organization’s Edu-co-vert program is to heighten awareness among young people about the effects of overconsumption and its impact on the environment. Third and fourth grade students are encouraged to donate an old toy to the Lutins Verts organization, which will restore the toys and sell them in their Biosphere workshop in December 2010.

1 Les actes du Sommet sur la biodiversité et le verdissement de Montréal, Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal, 2010, 29 p.

2 Canadian climate normals or averages 1971-2000 and Canadian climate data online research, National climate data and information archive, Environment Canada

3 Canada’s Coolest Cities, by Alison Bailie and Claire Beckstead, The Pembina Institute, 2010

4 Canadian households’ greenhouse gas emissions from private vehicle operation, 1990 to 2007, by Berouk Terefe, Statistics Canada

5 Air quality in Vital Sign communities, Special request, Environment Canada

6 Municipal water use, Environment Canada

7 Portrait 2004 des matières résiduelles de l’agglomération de Montréal, Ville de Montréal, 2009, 52 p.

8 Portrait 2006 des matières résiduelles de l’agglomération de Montréal, Ville de Montréal, 2008, 52 p.

9 Réduire pour mieux grandir. Plan directeur de gestion des matières résiduelles de l’agglomération de Montréal (2010-2014), Ville de Montréal, 2009, 109 p.

10 Households and the environment, Special Request, Statistics Canada

11 Households and the environment, Special Request, Statistics Canada

12 « Un secteur vert et bien intégré aux quartiers environnants », Journal Forum, 25 mai 2010

13 Le mont Royal, château d’eau de Montréal, dépliant des Randonnées à la carte sur le mont Royal, Les Amis de la montagne, 2002 et Jean-Michel Villanove