From apps to drones, Montreal better equipped to handle winter storms, officials say

Montreal officials say the city is fully prepared for winter’s wrath — adding an ice breaker to its fleet of snow removal trucks while increasing its supply of salt to combat icy roads and sidewalks.

Quebec says snow removal trucks, crews and salt all standing by, waiting for the snow to fall

According to the city, 238 centimetres of snow fell on the island last winter. The average is 190 centimetres. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

Montreal officials say the city is fully prepared for winter's wrath — adding an ice breaker to its fleet of snow removal trucks while increasing its supply of salt to combat icy roads and sidewalks.

At a news conference Thursday, Coun. Jean-François Parenteau said improved technology, from mobile apps to drones, will also help improve the city's snow removal services.

Drones will be deployed over snow dumps to ensure optimal usage of the space. Last winter, the former Blue Bonnets racetrack was turned into a temporary snow-dumping site because the city's three dump sites were too full. 

Parenteau said the Info-Neige mobile app will be improved this year.

For starters, the app, which had nearly 273,000 users last winter, will offer more free parking options during snow removal operations.

Parenteau, who is the executive committee member responsible for citizen services, said the app will also be linked to the city's resident services app. That app, he said, will be improved as well.

These improved apps will allow Montrealers to flag issues such as poorly cleared sidewalks, erroneous signs and slippery roads in front of schools, hospitals and bus stops, he said.

In a statement, Parenteau described the apps as a "powerful tool for us to improve our operations in the field. The city's digital shift opens the door to a host of new opportunities to make everyday life easier."

Coun. Jean-François Parenteau says the city's Info-Neige app, which had nearly 273,000 users last year, will be improved.

Citizen participation, he said, is essential to delivering effective services. That participation includes reporting problems through the apps while adhering to parking regulations and driving safely.

According to the city, last winter was exceptional, with two more snow removal operations than usual to clear the 238 centimetres of snow that fell on an island that averages 190.

Last winter, the Plante administration came under sharp criticism from residents for the way it handled snow removal operations. 

Quebec crews also equipped and ready

Quebec's Transportation Department has also been gearing up for the Montreal region's 2018-19 winter.

Snow removal trucks are ready to hit the road, salt is in storage and staff are on alert, according to a Thursday announcement.

The aim, the ministry explains, is to be ready to complete the required operations in a "timely manner" from when the first snow accumulates — to enable efficient and safe travel on the roads that are managed by the province.

As the ministry is prepared for winter, it is also recommending that drivers get ready as well. Motorists are encouraged to check Quebec 511 for road condition updates before heading out.

The ministry recommends motorists prepare their car for winter, equipping it with winter windshield wipers, snow brooms, extra clothing, first aid kits, emergency food rations and water.

Those emergency rations and extra clothing may come in handy if drivers again become trapped on Highway 13 as happened in 2017.

In the Montreal region, the ministry is responsible for:

  • Maintaining more than 3,100 kilometres of roads.

  • Spending $36.5 million for all winter maintenance operations.

  • Assigning nearly 210 snow removal trucks to operations.

  • Spreading enough salt to cover nine and a half football fields to a depth of one metre.

  • Spreading enough abrasive to cover two and a half football fields to a depth of one metre.


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