The itchy eyes, the sneezing, congested noses: they’re all annual reminders that allergy season is upon us, and at least 15 per cent of the Canadian population is affected by ragweed.
But for those with summer symptoms, there’s growing evidence that climate change is making the allergy season last longer than before.
“The growing season for these plants is behind a lot of the environmental allergens (from sources) like trees, and grass and ragweed,” said Dr Jesse Schwartz, an allergist and researcher with the Jewish General Hospital.
Ragweed grows everywhere in Montreal. Some boroughs even send workers to manually remove the plants before they release their pollen in late August.
It’s a labour-intensive job, and its not always enough to stop the wave of allergens across the island. Montreal once had a bylaw forcing home owners to remove ragweed from their property, which was later abandoned in the 1990s because it was difficult to enforce.
“I think it can be tricky because you have to identify the plant, remove it, and dispose of it correctly,” said Schwartz.
montreal.ctvnews.ca/content/dam/ctvnews/en/images/2023/8/29/ragweed-1-6539227-1693319291694.jpg” alt=””/>Montreal’s Southwest borough is fighting ragweed amid a tough allergy season.
SOUTHWEST FIGHTS BACK
Montreal’s Southwest borough has come at the issue in another way in recent years, by cultivating an urban environment where ragweed won’t grow.
“Ragweeds are non competitive, they`re not very good at competing against other plants,” said Councillor Craig Sauvé. “So, (if something else is) planted there, we’re not going to get ragweed.”
Officials have distributed wooden planters across the borough. Many of them house a tree surrounded by flowers, and residents can “adopt” them and take over their care.
The project, Sauvé says, has been instrumental in reducing the amount of ragweed pollen in the air.
It may not rid the city of its ragweed problem, said Sauvé, but he hopes it helps allergy sufferers to get out once in a while to enjoy the insufferable outdoors.
With files from CTV’s Cindy Sherwin