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Beating the Heat in the Concrete Jungle: Community groups combat summer heat and smog by greening Montreal!

Montreal – Summer 2006

As Montrealers suffer another stifling summer heat wave, feeling choked by the smog and humidity, some people are trying to do something about it!

But a cooler gentler Montreal is possible if we can “green-up” the city centre with urban vegetable gardens, green roofs, and more trees. Many community and environmental organisations are leading the way.

According to Alex Hill, Coordinator of the Rooftop Garden Project “Plants in my balcony garden not only give me fresh veggies, but also provide shade on a hot day. As water transpires from the plants and trees they cool my house as if they’re sweating, which in turn reduces my sweating.” The Rooftop Garden Project is reclaiming unused spaces such as rooftops and balconies to be converted into productive vegetable gardens and lively community spaces.

Other groups are contributing their own solutions. The Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal (CRE-Montréal) is working on the impact of heat islands on the quality of life, and has been given the mandate of educating the population, decision makers and large property owners about the issue and possible solutions. A series of trees have been planted in the Plateau-Mont Royal borough as examples of the importance of trees even in a dense urban neighborhood. Coralie Deny, CRE-Montréal project manager, notes that “greening is an ideal solution that must be allowed everywhere possible. From urban soil to the roofs of our buildings, there is no doubt that the potential is there.”

The Maison de quartier Villeray is planting fruit trees and urban vegetable gardens, and The Urban Ecology Centre (UEC) is promoting grass covered green roofs. These projects combined are helping to BEAT THE SUMMER HEAT, by increasing the greenery in Montreal.

The expanses of brick, pavement and concrete in Montreal absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat leading to elevated summer temperatures in the city centre. This makes days like today even hotter for inner city residents, than for those in the suburbs and small towns. Urban heat islands form as trees, parks, gardens and open spaces are replaced by asphalt and concrete for roads, buildings, and other structures. (For information on Urban Heat Islands, and their effects visit: Trees and plants cool their surroundings as water evaporates from their leaves. These cooler temperatures decrease the formation of smog, and the plants’ leaves filter out many of the air-borne pollutants that cause smog and dust particles.

Increasing heat in large cities like Montreal is now considered a serious cause of mortality. Montreal’s Public Health Department, in its 2006 report “Urban Transport, A health question” publicized that the number of premature deaths due to episodes of smog in Montreal is now at 1500 people per year and continues to grow because of increased temperatures.

Now is the time to act: let’s turn our heat islands into green islands!

For More Information Contact:
The Rooftop Garden Project (
Rotem Ayalon 514 982-6606, poste 2243

See a map that shows which parts of Montreal suffer the most from the Urban Heat Island

For more info on the Urban Heat Island

For more information about the urban heat island effect and to know what’s going on in Montreal to stop it, check out :
Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal (
The Rooftop Garden Project (
Maison de quartier Villeray (
The Urban Ecology Centre (

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Submitted by rotem on Mon, 17/07/2006 - 11:07am.