Montreal mayor prepares for 'sizeable challenge' to keep busy streets clear during winter

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante announced new snow removal policies this morning, taking an early step in addressing what will be the city’s first remote-work winter.

The plan aims establish to a shared responsibility and greater flexibility between Montreal residents, a project which Plante says could bring benefits that would last well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our homework is done,” Plante said, “but this winter will be different, and our management will need to be different as well.”

Due to most people working from home, Plante said that one of the main challenges will be to manage snow clearing while most people will have their cars parked near their homes. She emphasized that Montrealers will need to stay alert for signage and be ready to move their vehicles when a convoy is about to pass through their street.

Plante also announced that municipal parking would be expanded to accommodate residents, with 2,000 spots having been added to the city and more to come throughout winter.

Executive committee member Jean-François Parenteau, who is in charge of managing the operation, said that they foresee parking to be a significant issue. He mentioned that the city has routinely observed delays in snow clearing in the first days of the year, when families gather at home.

“We expect it to be January 2 all winter long,” Parenteau said during the conference.

In order to track snow clearing operations, Plante and Parenteau are advising residents to use the INFO-Neige MTL app, noting that people will be allowed to move their cars back into street parking as soon as operations are finished even if signage has not yet been removed. They are, however, asking people to be very careful and make sure there are no more snow mounds left in the street before moving their vehicles back.

On the municipal side of things, the city will not be adding any new members to snow-clearing teams and will make more municipal buildings available to workers for meetings and breaks. To minimize the risk of infection and protect both employees and residents, private businesses have also been asked to coordinate their work crews with the city to limit close contact as much as possible.

“This will be a team effort between all the districts,” Plante said, emphasizing the co-operative nature of many of the new measures.

New trucks and machinery will also be required to be equipped with side bars designed to prevent people from accidentally slipping under the machinery. Plante noted that she eventually wants all trucks travelling inside the city to have these bars, saying they might ask the federal government to help with legislation.

That isn’t the only measure Plante hopes to bring into the future. When discussing a plan to allow boroughs to lend each other snow-clearing teams if one area falls behind, Plante noted that this kind of co-operative policy might remain beyond the pandemic. 

Similarly, Parenteau said that measures such as allowing residents to move their cars back onto street parking right after an operation were “testing citizens’ collaboration.” If the pilot projects work out, it might make every winter in Montreal just a little easier to bear. 

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