‘We’re adding more tools’: City of Montreal gears up for another winter season

A file photo of snow operations in Montreal. Staff/Global News

As Montrealers brace for the first major snowfall of the season, the City of Montreal has unveiled its snow clearing plan on Monday for the 2019-2020 winter months.

Up to 20 centimetres of snow could fall on Montreal overnight and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said the last time a snowstorm hit so early in the season was 36 years ago.

Despite the surprise snowfall, she says the city is ready, not just for Tuesday, but the season.

Plante said the plan aims to ensure the network of city streets is safer and more accessible for all Montrealers.

READ MORE: Montrealers scramble to put on snow tires before blast of winter weather

“We’re adding more flexibility this year and we’re adding more tools as well,” Plante said.

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While the City of Montreal is responsible for launching snow removal operations, each borough will be allowed to initiate two additional snow removal operations of its own.

Snow clearing begins when 2.5 centimetres of snow accumulates on the ground, while snow removal operations can be declared at 10 centimetres.

The idea is to make snow removal operations more responsive and flexible to better meet the needs of citizens.

Plante, however, made it clear the city and the boroughs work in a close partnership.

The boroughs are responsible for snow clearing, but the resources come from the city, Plante explained.

READ MORE: Montreal postpones Halloween due to bad weather

Boroughs have also received a supplemental budget to allow them to make arrangements with local organizations to help clear private entrances for people with reduced mobility.

Officials say the city is also adding 15 weather stations to its network, bringing the total to 25. The stations will allow for a more detailed look at precipitation on the island and ultimately allow the city to make better use of its resources.

In response to last winter’s freeze-thaw cycle that made for slippery streets and sidewalks, more than 600 observation points will be set up to measure the thickness of ice after snow clearing or de-icing operations.

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According to executive committee member Jean-François Parenteau, it will allow them to pinpoint trouble areas and readjust accordingly.

Parenteau said it will also help the city identify if there are any problems with contractors and evaluate areas that need improvement.

“If you want to make something better, it’s really important to have statistics to make a better plan.”

Pedestrians have not been forgotten. The city has ordered 33 trailers for spreading abrasives on sidewalks. More equipment the city says, will help reduce its response time.

Click to play video: 'Wintery weather costly for Montreal' Wintery weather costly for Montreal
Wintery weather costly for Montreal – Feb 21, 2019

Plante took a moment to thank, in advance, the 3,000 employees that will be working to ensure the city’s 10,000 km of streets and sidewalks are clear of snow this winter.

The opposition, however, took aim at Plante’s new plan.

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“They seemingly haven’t learned from the last two years,” said Ensemble Montréal leader Lionel Perez. “They have not increased the budget for snow removal, they’ve only covered the inflationary cost.”

Perez called it a “mistake,” arguing it showed poor management of public funds.

“It shows they’re trying to use either their reserve funds or in fact, any eventual surplus to cover those kind of expenses,” he said.

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