Montreal snow, water make for messy mix

A winter storm continues to cause problems for Montrealers as falling temperatures break water mains, soaking snow-covered roads.
A water main broke near Notre Dame Street and Bourbonniere Street in Montreal's east end on Wednesday morning. ((CBC))
A winter storm continued to cause problems for Montrealers on Wednesday as dipping temperatures caused water mains to burst, sending water across snow-covered roads.

The city is into its third day of the first winter storm of the season. An estimated 40 centimetres of snow has fallen since Monday, and several more are in the forecast for Wednesday.

The storm has ushered in the coldest temperatures Montreal has seen so far this season, causing some fragile underground water mains to snap. The temperature in the city dropped to –9 C overnight.

Shortly before 5 a.m., a 35 cm water main snapped on Bourbonnière Street near Notre-Dame Street in the city's east end. Water could be seen gushing out of sewer grates, as city crews worked to contain the water and repair the pipe.

One apartment building was briefly evacuated as a result of the water.

Police were advising drivers to avoid the area around Notre Dame Street near Pie-IX Boulevard, a traditionally busy intersection during the morning rush hour.

A second water main break was reported on Gouin Boulevard near 38th Avenue in the neighbourhood of Rivières-des-Prairies.

Five days to clean up snow

A broken water main on Bourbonniere Street near Notre-Dame Street sent water into snow-covered streets on Wednesday. ((CBC))
City officials said it will take until the end of the week to clear away the snow that continues to clog some of Montreal's side-streets. Snow plows have been making the rounds, creating mountains of snow along the sides of many main arteries.

Yves Girard, director of snow removal for the city, said the cleanup could take even longer depending on how much more snow falls on Wednesday.

"We expect to do it in five days, but I can't tell you right now. It could be six, depending on the winter that we'll have. We just ask the population to please help us," he said.

No-parking zones during snow removal:

  • Notre-Dame Street East (between Georges V and Papineau Streets).
  • Sherbrooke Street East (between 81st Avenue and Highway 25).
  • Crémazie Boulevard (between Pie-IX and Acadie Boulevards).
  • Henri-Bourassa Boulevard (between Ray-Lawson Boulevard and Berri Street).
  • Pie-IX Boulevard (between Henri-Bourassa Boulevard and Notre-Dame Street).
  • Papineau Avenue (between Henri-Bourassa Boulevard and Notre-Dame Street).

Girard advised residents to be careful as they make their way around the city, on car or on foot.

"Be careful during these operations because we have 3,000 workers on the road for the next five days, and 2,200 pieces of equipment with trucks. Be careful," he added.

So far, Montrealers appeared to be taking the advice.

"It's going well. People are respecting the signs," said Dany Morin, a driver of a snow-removal truck who said he has been working around the clock since Monday.

The city is expected to give an update on the snow clearing operation at 10 a.m. ET.