Hydrogen Train Takes to the Rails in Quebec

In an effort to show North Americans that train travel can be both good for the environment and getting around Alstom has sent a train to Quebec. The train company has been making a hydrogen powered train to replace diesel engines on routes that don’t support electric operations. Hydrogen isn’t as efficient as electric engines but it provides a good transitional solution in areas that currently only use diesel. Every step we take away from oil makes the world a little better.

According to Serge Harnois, CEO of Harnois Énergies, which supplies the fuel for the train, it uses up about 50 kilograms of hydrogen a day, replacing about 500 litres of diesel that would be burned during the same journey. A diesel-powered truck carries the hydrogen to the train station for refuelling, which results in some carbon footprint, but according to Harnois, hydrogen would likely be produced on-site “one day.”

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Thanks to Trevor.

How Quebec Will Defeat AirBnB

ai image of a banker building a house

The global housing crisis has numerous causes, and one of them is AirBnB. Of course there are competitors to the short term rental company but the impact of their presence on the housing market has been staggering in places with high level of tourism like Montreal. Back in March people died when a fire broke out in an AirBnB, the hotel wasn’t obeying occupancy laws among other issues. The public outcry at this tragedy was meaningful and led to policy changes. The Quebec government has introduced legislation to curtail the exploitation and high risks of running a AirBnB. Not only will the policy protect occupants of AirBnBs it will help alleviate pressure on their housing market.

“This new law represents a pretty significant step forward there, because it is really kind of tightening the constraints,” said McGill University Prof. David Wachsmuth, the Canada Research Chair in Urban Governance.

“That’s a really good template that I think other provinces, and certainly Ontario and British Columbia, the other big provinces, should be looking to emulate.”

Under Quebec’s new proposed law, titled “An Act to fight illegal tourist accommodation,” rental companies such as Airbnb would be obligated to keep records of each advertised accommodation’s registration certificate.

They would also have to validate the registration numbers of those establishments and designate a Quebec-based representative to make it easier to actually reach someone from the rental company.

The bill also provides for the creation of a public registry of tourist accommodations, to be maintained by the tourism minister or by a body recognized by the minister.

Fines against individuals who don’t comply would range between $5,000 to $50,000, while companies could face fines of $10,000 to $100,000 per posting.

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Quebec Cancels Planned LNG Operation to Protect the Environment


The waters of the Saguenay and the St. Lawerence have avoided great harm thanks to the cancellation of a massive natural gas facility in the area. People had been protesting the development for years and the government finally listened. The project would have taken bitumen from the tar sands in Alberta across the country to be exported via ships in the Saguenay out to the Atlantic. It’s good to see a project that would have increased carbon output get cancelled in favour of protecting the planet. (Fun fact: I took the photo above along the Saguenay)

In March, the province’s independent environmental review agency issued a report that was critical of the plans to build a plant and marine terminal in the Saguenay.

The project was likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions in Canada by eight million tonnes annually, the agency concluded.

Last month, federal environmental agencies determined the project, which would involve large tankers transiting along the Saguenay River, threatened beluga whales.

And last week, three Innu communities vowed to oppose the project because of the negative impact it would have on the environment.

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Quebec Business Turns Waste into Juice

Juice Loop is a new company in Quebec that is taking food waste and turning it into juice and other products. This was isn’t what’s left on a plate from a restaurant, instead it comes from the supply chain inefficiencies present in how grocery stores run their operations. It’s a classic story of entrepreneurs seeing an opportunity to solve a problem, except these entrepreneurs want to make the world better while making money. They opened in the province of Quebec last year and have already cracked into the Ontario market.

In the food supply industry, the business model is partly based on speculation about the level of demand from groceries and anticipated sales, said Poitras-Saulnier. For example, a supplier could request 25 containers of fruit, but then fail to sell all of them, she explained.

“Sometimes they sell less — they could sell 20 containers. So there would be five left over the next week that are starting to get more ripe and almost ready to be eaten, which means that they wouldn’t last long enough in the distribution cycle and wind up being trashed.”

Juice Loop anticipates reusing 300 tons of fruits and vegetables by the end of this year and 525 tons in 2018. Its operations are designed to take care of all of the waste — even the leftover fruit pulp is reused to make organic pet food.

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Thanks to Delaney!

Fracking Banned in Quebec

People love putting oil in things so much that they’ll cause fracking earthquakes. Quebec has decided there’s no fracking way in their province as the hydraulic fracturing method to get oil out of hard to reach places is too dangerous.

It’s really good to see at least one Canadian province take an educated, knowledge-based, approach to oil.

Quebec issued a temporary ban on hydraulic fracturing pending further study last March, putting a halt to exploration in the province, though companies had expected limited drilling for research purposes. Environ-mental groups, farmers and others in Quebec had spoken out against shale gas development in the province.

The committee will order several more studies with a deadline of next spring, Joly said Tuesday, with the final report targeted for completion some time in 2013. He reported that the committee learned a lot from public hearings held from November 2011 to January 2012 and said there would be further hearings, geared toward specific sectors.

Committee members plan to also travel to Alberta and B.C., and to Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, where there are also shale-gas deposits.

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