Plante wants (another) explanation for still-icy city sidewalks

Mayor Valerie Plante has ordered all of the city's boroughs to submit a report on ice-removal operations in the city, amid numerous complaints about icy sidewalks following last week's rainstorm — and the flash-freeze that followed.

The mayor says she wants all the information in to analyze how her administration can do a better job of clearing the streets.

Meanwhile, the city's eight ice-crushing machines, purchased last winter with much fanfare at a cost of $20,000 each, are still in the garage, where they have been so far this season. Philippe Sabourin, the city's point man on all things relating to snow and ice, says there hasn't been an instance so far this season where the ice has been more than an inch thick on the sidewalks.

Before the flash-freeze that turned all the water from the New Year's Eve rainstorm to ice, Sabourin insisted city vehicles were out and about spreading abrasives in anticipation of the cold temperatures. But, as is often the case, many of the city's sidestreets were coated with enough ice to make walking treacherous.

The Plante administration made similar comments at roughly this time last year, after waiting several days to launch a snow-removal operation for a 10.2-centimetre snowfall on Jan. 22. Temperatures climbed above zero in the following days before a deep-freeze set in, making the streets a mess.

She pledged at the time to meet with the boroughs to find ways to improve service.