City of Montreal tackles de-icing operation as Verdun residents feel forgotten

Click to play video: 'Icy conditions in Montreal'
Icy conditions in Montreal
The City of Montreal and its work crews are overwhelmed with cleaning up after with this week's blast of wintry weather. But as Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports, Verdun residents feel forgotten – Feb 24, 2022

The City of Montreal and its work crews are overwhelmed battling the elements this last week, according to city officials.

While a snow loading operation is expected to end Thursday evening, crews are now busy shifting gears tackling the frozen streets and sidewalks with a de-icing operation.

“This is extreme weather we’re dealing with,” city spokesperson Philippe Sabourin said.

Overnight Wednesday, Sabourin says city trucks spread salt and abrasives throughout the complete Montreal territory at least twice. 

“I watched my daughter almost skate away instead of walk on the icy sidewalk,” Verdun resident Mannon Houle said.

Houle, who lives on Manning street in Verdun, says the salt crews completely forgot about her street.

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“They forgot us. The borough hasn’t put down a grain of salt in the last 24 hours,” Houle said.

Houle described Manning Street’s sidewalk as a mirror of ice and said it was unwalkable.

At Salon Beurling, owner Christane Oligny says the icy sidewalk is hurting her business.

Oligny says that for the last two days, several of her clients have cancelled their appointments because of the difficulty getting to the salon door due to the icy conditions.

“It’s deceiving. The city isn’t doing anything,” Oligny said. “People aren’t coming. Who wants to walk on this ice?”

She admits that crews have passed through the Verdun borough on the major arteries like Beurling Avenue but side streets and their sidewalks remain untouched.

Oligny blames her slowdown in business on what she claims is the borough’s lack of action and foresight.

“It’s incredible. I have never seen it like this,” Oligny said.

In response, the borough says the Verdun public works teams are giving 100 per cent to maintain the 300 kilometres of streets and sidewalks.

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Borough officials admit not all areas have gotten the same attention but said the conditions are difficult to contend with.

“In some areas, workers will have to manually spread abrasives, rather than use machinery because the sidewalks are too slippery and the equipment could slide into cars,” Mathieu Robert-Perron, borough spokesperson, said.

The City of Montreal says the spreading of rock and salt will continue across the territory in the days ahead.

Sabourin said the expected temperatures will help the salt melt the ice.

When asked about the 11 available ice crushing machines at the city’s disposal, Sabourin said only two have been deployed since Wednesday’s storm, in the Ville-Marie borough.

Urgences-santé says the ice has caused a number of injuries in recent days.

At its peak Wednesday, spokesperson Chantal Comeau says the call centre received 90 calls an hour, double the norm, all concerning falls on ice.

“It’s been especially challenging for the last 48 hours, especially for our staff and paramedics,” Comeau said.

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