Montreal has only launched one snow removal operation since the beginning of winter. If more than a dozen centimeters have fallen since this first operation in December, precipitation and weather conditions have not resulted in the 10-to-15-cm snow accumulation on the ground required to trigger another waltz of snow blowers and trucks.
Climate Change and… Strategy Change!
“Our strategy is no longer oriented towards snow removal” recognized this week Martin Savard, the director of the Borough Concertation Department (Service de la concertation des arrondissements), in response to a question during the 2022 budget public presentation of his department which is in charge of snow removal in Montreal.
The goal of the central administration is now to make walking and public transportation in the different neighborhoods possible before anything else. Clearing up the sidewalks is now a priority.
Chasing ice has become a new challenge because of climate change. Between extreme cold and mild spells, the combo of snow, rain or freezing rain make things more complex. “We are adjusting our strategies in favor other types of commute before driving” explained Mr. Savard, acknowledging that this is a change of course. Previously, snow removal plans were made, in Montreal like elsewhere in Quebec, for cars according to the director.
Snowbanks in a few streets ? Private snow – authorized only in some circumstances
This new strategy explains why snow was only pushed, compacted but not removed from the streets. Many citizens have been complaining about snow banks fattening up on streets with several private driveways. Created by snow pushed onto the roadway to clear access to residential properties, these snow banks are allowed as long as they respect the specific guidelines in LaSalle, Lachine, Verdun and in Sud-Ouest boroughs.
Several other Montreal boroughs prohibit this practice, while the rest have decided to issue special permits at a fixed cost ($50 per building in Ahuntsic-Cartierville) or at a variable cost billed per used square meter on the street.
How much does it cost to transport snow ? $2.75/m3 to $3/m3
With a total budget of approximately $135 million in 2022, snow removal costs are not negligible in Montreal. It is split between the City (about $80 million) and the boroughs. Last year, the average cost of transporting snow for hourly contracts was just under $3 per m3, a significant increase compared to the previous year. The 2022 goal is to maintain this cost at around $2.75 per m3.
Most snow removal operations are decided by the City, but each borough is also allowed to trigger two per winter, depending on its local needs. As Mr. Savard explained in his answer to our question (which you can also watch in the video available in French below), the first operation is part of each borough budget while the second is budgeted at the City level.
While the borough of LaSalle confirmed last Friday that such a snow removal operation was not on the agenda, the weather forecast announcing a good snowfall for the start of the week could change the situation by triggering snow removal in Montreal.
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