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Jean Talon Market vendors told to quit BBQing

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Restaurants, butchers and other vendors at the Jean Talon Market have been told to stop cooking food outdoors or they will risk a $200 fine. Apparently, the Rosemont—Petite-Patrie borough decided to issue a warning after it received several complaints about barbecue smoke from nearby residents. Here’s the full story from the CBC:

Jean Talon Market shop owners warned against grilling food outdoors say they will continue their time-honoured summer practice, despite complaints about the smell.

Several butcher shops at the popular Montreal market have received warning letters from the Rosemont-Petite-Patrie borough informing them the practice of cooking outdoors is illegal and subject to a $200 fine.

The letters were issued this year after some residents in the market’s vicinity complained about wafts of roasting meat that float into surrounding streets.

The borough said shops are allowed to cook food inside the market, but not on its outdoor sidewalks.

Many butcher shops at the popular market set up grill stands during peak season for shoppers, and have been doing so for years, explained Mathieu Robert, a manager at his family store, William J. Walter Meat Shop.

The warning was unexpected given how long the practice has gone on, he said. “I’ve been there for seven years now, and I’ve been visited by different [city] inspectors, and they never talked to me about that, never ever.”

“The letter says that we’re all illegal right now, but the city didn’t inform us of anything,” Robert told CBC News. “We put up money to build up our businesses, terraces, [to cook] outside at Jean Talon Market. And we have this letter saying that no, you can’t do it anymore.

“It’s kind of sad, actually.”

Robert said his shop will pay a fine if it’s issued, but he’s not prepared to stop cooking outside.

Other meat shop owners are circulating a petition protesting the borough’s crackdown.

This reminds of a few years ago, when some newly-arrived residents on the Plateau complained to the city about the smoke from the many Portuguese rotisseries along Rachel Street. I know that barbecue smoke can be annoying, and even hazardous to your health if you are exposed to it constantly, but meat has been grilled at the Jean Talon Market for years, and hundreds of thousands of Montrealers are constantly barbecuing during the summer. I think the benefit to Montreal’s cultural and commercial life far outweighs whatever nuisance it may pose a few sensitive people.



  1. I admit I don’t love barbeque smell — I’m a vegetarian — but it would have to get really, really bad before it would even occur to me to complain to the borough about it. In fact, I’m not even sure it would ever occur to me.

    I wonder who’s been complaining? If it’s in fact new residents to the area, this reminds me of the continual noise complaints/threats that long-standing Mile-End bars have been receiving in the past year: The Green Room and Casa del Popolo being two.

    Also in danger are Mile-End music practice spaces — the Opera building on St-Viateur and St-Laurent has evicted most of its tenants despite having served as a practice space for years, and despite being in theory an ideal space — skirted by parking lots on two sides and the street on a third. With the upcoming razing of Griffintown times are tight for the local music community. And it is hard not to be frustrated by people who move into trendy areas because of their lively character without realizing that that character stems from supporting an active cultural life.

  2. I’m a local resident, though I no longer live so close by as to be affected by the odours and smoke. I’d like to hear from the people who are. I have never noticed any excessive smoke from William J. Walter, from Capitole, or indeed from the fish frying at Poissonerie Shamrock. At certain times, there has really been excessive smoke from L’Olivier – to the extent that it would be a health hazard for people on Mozart street behind or for other people who work at the market – not to mention their own staff, often recent immigrants from the Maghreb who are hard-pressed to find a better job (though most seem highly educated). Some people have also complained about Frites Alors, though I really haven’t noticed any excess smoke, splattering grease or odours – sure it smells of frites, but so do many people’s houses and flats!

    I think it would be a pity to outlaw cooking on the two sides (north and south ends of the market) of “Rue du Marché-du-Nord”, on the flimsy pretext that it is not technically part of the market. There is nothing but market-related activity on either side of that “street”, except for the music store at the northeastern corner. There isn’t currently any cooking on the northern side, but that is because a lot of it was taken up by Sami Fruit, which has closed down; the premises are being renovated and I wouldn’t be surprised if the new management or managements plan to prepare street food, as it is a major draw. (That is a very high building, and behind it is Jean-Talon, where the traffic is far more polluting than grilling or frying).

    But at the same time, it is essential that businesses that do prepare food outdoors not be a health hazard – I believe L’Olivier has improved their ventilation but it remains to be seen. There was a major problem with one of the Portuguese bbq places on Rachel; it wasn’t just a matter of gentrifiers moving in and not wanting to put up with a long-standing nuisance.

  3. Are these the same kind of people who complained about the noise coming from the Fringe festival because their new condos overlooked the park on Rachel and the Main?

    Sounds like gentrification to me.

    Wouldn’t want any images or smells that remind us of labour, now would we. That’s just unpleasant. Keep that stuff over in the east end, please.

  4. I can’t imagine my opinion will be popular. I love eating street food but if the smells are offensive to the people living in the area, I completely understand. I have lived close to KFC and Frites Alors on Parc and during the summer the smell of grease would waft into my apartment. That was truly disgusting. I now live behind another restaurant with a loud exhaust fan and nausea-inducing cooking odors (five to ten minutes of inhaling this is fine but having it blow into your house for 12 hours a day makes you want to throw up). We can’t hang out our laundry or sit on our balconies because the odor is so strong and it clings to everything like a layer of grease. Worse even is that we cannot open our windows. I don’t think it has anything to do with being a yuppie, it is a quality of life issue.
    Seeing the stalls move in to a closed/covered market area, like Sami Fruit location would be a great thing.

  5. Street food is illegal and should remain so. Why should the people at Marché Jean Talon be exempt?

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