Montreal snow-clearing sees disparity between boroughs

Snowfall over the last week, including a record 39 centimetres on Dec. 29, is putting the City of Montreal’s new centralized snow-removal policy to the test.

Policy introduced to harmonize snow-removal operations across the city's boroughs

Many streets in Montreal's Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough have yet to be cleared of snow almost a week after 39 centimetres fell. (Steve Rukavina / CBC)

Snowfall over the last week, including a record 39 centimetres on Dec. 29, is putting the City of Montreal's new centralized snow-removal policy to the test.

The policy was introduced to harmonize snow-removal operations across the city's boroughs to ensure residents in every borough receive comparable service.

"A Montrealer is a Montrealer no matter where they live in the city, and they're entitled to the same services," Anie Samson, the executive committee member responsible for snow removal operations, said in November as the new policy was rolled out.

By mid-afternoon, an average of 69 per cent of streets in most Montreal boroughs were free of snow, according to the City of Montreal's Info-Neige mobile app.

Huge disparities remained between the boroughs, however — while snow had been cleared from all streets in the borough of Anjou, only 51 per cent of streets in Pierrefonds-Roxboro and 56 per cent of streets in Saint-Laurent were free of snow.

Centralized system

While snow-removal remains the responsibility of each borough, they now face penalties for not conforming with time limits and other rules for clearing snow set out under the city's central policy.

Each borough is given 12 hours to begin snow removal once the order is given by the city. They then have 36 hours to complete the removal on main arteries.

Montreal was hit with a major snow storm on Dec. 29, its first of the winter. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)
Snow must be removed within 96 hours on secondary and local roads when a storm results in 20 centimetres of snow or less.

Snow-removal operations to clean up after the Dec. 29 storm began at 7 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 30 but were put on hold for the evening of Dec. 31 and all day Jan. 1.

Work resumed Saturday to clear major arteries, reserved bus lanes and hospital entrances.

Problems persist

Despite the new policy, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce resident Steve Jass says snow-clearing problems persist on the streets of his neighbourhood around Wilson Avenue and de Terrebonne Street.

"It looks like a total mess. It's immovable, it's freezing up really fast, and it's beginning to look like a nordic ski jump," he said.

Jass said he plans to take it up at the next borough council meeting.

There are roughly 10,000 kilometres of roads and sidewalks to clear across Montreal, according to the city.

The Info-Neige mobile app provides updates on snow-removal operations for 18 of Montreal's 19 boroughs based on data from the City of Montreal's 'Planif-Neige' management system.

The only borough not included is L'Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève.

CBC Montreal reporter Steve Rukavina takes to the streets of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce to assess the snow-clearing efforts in the borough. 1:15


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