Beaconsfield adds melter to its snow-removal fleet

Residents of Beaconsfield will see a shiny new piece of snow removal equipment in their town come January. The city has invested in a snow melter, that should help keep Beaconsfield streets clean and snow free. Global's Phil Carpenter has more.

It’s not winter yet but Beaconsfield’s public works department is already preparing for the first snowfall — and the city is getting something new for the upcoming season.

“We’re getting a snow melter,” said public Works director Marie-Claude Desrochers.

The West Island city has been dumping its snow at a Pointe-Claire site for at least a decade but in 2018, Beaconsfield was told to stop because the site was getting full, according to Desrochers.

Since there aren’t many other options, Desrochers said the city decided to melt the snow with a machine.

READ MORE: Montreal’s boosts snow-clearing budget by $5.3M to rent high-powered snowblowers

“With taxes it’s $617,000,” she told Global News.

This is how it works: snow is brought to the melter at various locations during a de-icing operation. It’s then loaded into the machine where boiling water melts it  All the melted snow is dumped into storm drains.

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Desrochers explained that if the snow is contaminated with salt, it is sent via special collectors to the city’s treatment plant.

Depending on the frequency and the size of snow storms, workers estimate they will be melting snow three to four days per week.

“It’s supposed to melt 80 tonnes per hour of snow,” Desrochers explained.  “When we were going to Pointe-Claire we were moving snow for four to five days.”

Some residents are intrigued by the idea but wonder about the amount of water being dumped into the sewers all at once.

“If they’re filling up too much I feel like they might overflow, which will cause big puddles and then freeze over,” Beaconsfield resident Tammy Cohen. “So there will be more ice.”

However, city officials say they’re confident the sewers won’t overflow.

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Other people who live in Beaconsfield like Dawn Briand are concerned about the amount of fuel the melter will use.

“I don’t like the environmental impact it has but where else would they out the snow?” she wondered.

Desrochers stressed that the amount of fuel used will be the same as moving the snow by trucks.

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“The calculation we have is that the fuel that we’re using for trucks we will use for the melter,” she said.

The city will make adjustments if required to further reduce the environmental impact, she added.