Increasingly warm weather is causing snow and ice to fall from rooftops in downtown Montreal, putting pedestrians at risk of injuries.
Myriam Tremblay-Sher, a research journalist for CBC Montreal, witnessed the dangers first-hand when she suffered a concussion on Saturday after a mound of ice and snow fell on her head as she chatted with a friend on Metcalfe Street near Sainte-Catherine Street in the city's downtown core.
"Ultimately, it is not our responsibility." —Montreal fire department's chief of operations Robert Dubé
"All of a sudden, this enormous weight just tumbled onto my head. It was a complete shock," said Tremblay-Sher.
The area where she was standing at the time had not been cordoned off to warn pedestrians of the possible dangers of crashing snow and ice.
Tremblay-Sher said she didn't contact the city following the incident, but tape has recently been put up to block off the sidewalk.
According to the province's building safety board, building owners are responsible for removing snow and ice and putting up signs to warn passersby of possible dangers.
The board suggests building owners hire snow removal companies — not unlike the ones they hire to plow their parking lots — to look after their rooftops.
Firefighters will sometimes respond by limiting access to sidewalks and clearing off dangerous icicles before anyone gets hurt if owners fail to comply by the board's guidelines, or if a building is without an owner.
Montreal's fire department chief of operations, Robert Dubé, said firefighters treat ice and snow just like falling bricks. He said the department will act if public safety is at risk.
He said the fire department will sometimes ask the city to set up barriers if an area proves to be particularly dangerous, but said firefighters are a last resort to solve these problems."Ultimately, it is not our responsibility," said Dubé.