Montreal hopes 33 new salt trucks, 15 new weather stations will help it tackle winter this year – CTV News

Montreal hopes 33 new salt trucks, 15 new weather stations will help it tackle winter this year - CTV News
Brutal Monday evening commute as snow intensifies across Ontario, Quebec
The city said 3000 workers will be deployed to keep the citys 6500 km of sidewalks and 4100 km of roads safe and clear this season.

MONTREAL – With snow already on the ground, as many as 20 cm more on the way through Tuesday, and Montrealers lined up at garages around town to get their winter tires installed, the city of Montreal unveiled its strategy to deal with whats shaping up to be an epic winter season. It was 36 years ago when Montreal had its earliest snow clearing operation on record, on Nov. 16, 1983. This year, we could beat that early record — and the city is gearing up in preparation. Crews contracted to do salting and snow clearing werent working yet, said executive committee member Jean-Francois Parenteau, who oversees the citys snow-clearing efforts.

Were ready, vows mayor as Montreal braces for seasons 1st big snowfall

"All the contracts for the city of Montreal, they start after November the 15th," he said. 

There are small crews in place for Monday and Tuesday night, but it could still be a tough go. If your car still has summer tires, take public transit, said Mayor Valerie Plante.

“It could be a difficult day tomorrow,” he said. “Hopefully those who have not installed snow tries won’t even make the attempt to get out there with cars that are not properly equipped.”

"I know its not easy to ask but ultimately for your own security and for everyones security, take the bus, take the subway," she said.

“The next three or four days we are going to be working late,” he said. “We extended our shop hours to 9 p.m. and there’s no appointments. It is first come, first serve.”

New this year will be 33 additional salting trucks and 15 new weather stations that will bring to 25 the number of such stations that the city uses to monitor weather conditions across the city and deploy resources accordingly.

Montreals boroughs this year will also be permitted to perform two additional snow clearing operations, above and beyond the ones ordered by the central city. Boroughs have also received extra funding to sign deals with local organizations to ensure that private entrances and walkways for people with reduced mobility are cleared efficiently.

The blast of winter weather has also left motorists rushing to put on snow tires. In Quebec, snow tires are obligatory as of Dec. 1 after the province pushed back the deadline last year.

"Our administration is very conscious of the challenges presented by winter, which has started early this year," Plante said at a press conference Monday. "The climate crisis brings with it many changes to the way we deploy our operations on the ground. Thatss why we actively studied that issue following last winter and why we are using new resources and approaches this year that will allow us to ensure the safety of our road network for all citizens."

“There are certain spots on the island where the roads are slippery so please be vigilant, keep your distances and slow down,” said police spokesperson Jean-Pierre Brabant.

The city said 3,000 workers will be deployed to keep the citys 6,500 km of sidewalks and 4,100 km of roads safe and clear this season — although the labour shortage means contractors are having a hard time finding workers who want to put in long hours clearing snow.

Parenteau said the new equipment and approach will allow the city to be more agile in maintaining safe streets and sidewalks, and that it will adjust its stretegy in real-time as circumstances warrant. The city has increased its budget for snow removal yp $166 million, a $3 million increase, but opposition leader Lionel Perez argued thats still not enough.

The weather agency warns up to 20 centimetres of snow is expected for parts of southern and central Quebec. Some areas will receive up to 25 centimetres of snow.

"Each snow operation costs about $20 million, so to add $3 million is nothing more than a snowflake in the bucket," he said. 

Drivers who haven’t been able to get their tires on should make alternative arrangements, he added. They should not drive in difficult conditions.

In its first two winters in power, the Plante administration has been the recipient of widespread criticism over the citys clearing of streets and sidewalks, clashing with some boroughs over snow-clearing efforts and when to deploy them, at what threshold and how many resources to deploy.

As Quebecers rush to put on winter tires, local garages are doing their best to deal with the onslaught of customers ahead of the big storm.

Last winter, see-sawing temperatures and an inordinate amount of rain led to a particularily bumpy winter in terms of clearing the citys roads and sidewalks.

Montrealers are bracing for the season’s first major snowfall and drivers are scrambling to put on winter tires ahead of the storm.

The city had struck a special committee to study how it should manage its snow clearing in light of climate change.

Rick Leckner, a traffic analyst, said he believes the deadline should be as early as Nov. 15 given the weather conditions in Montreal.

#First #snowstorm of season on its way!#Montreal to see steady #snow begin during PM rush. Heaviest snow overnight, tapering off Tues AM. 15-20cm possible.#QuebecCity to see 15-25cm w gusts up to 60km/h#Ottawa to see closer to [email protected] pic.twitter.com/HiQYRzCsud

After Dec. 1, those caught driving without winter tires face fines that vary from $200 to $300, plus costs.

Montreal is gearing up for the earliest snow-clearing operation in its history, with 15 to 20 centimetres of snow expected to fall, starting late Monday afternoon into tomorrow morning. 

“The Tuesday morning commute is expected to be particularly difficult,” the warning states.

"It was a surprise to read that there will be a lot of snow today," Mayor Valérie Plante admitted. "But we are ready."

Montreal launches snow-clearing and removal operations on Dec. 17, on average. The date of the earliest snow-removal operation in history, until now, was Nov. 19  — and that was 36 years ago, the mayor said.

Plante offered her assurance that the city is doing all it can to minimize the impact of an early winter on pedestrian and vehicular traffic, as well as on public transit.

The city has been preparing for winter all year, the mayor said, and it will be launching a series of new initiatives to be "proactive."

Those include more weather monitoring stations throughout the city, more abrasive-spreading trailers for slippery sidewalks, and more monitoring of the progress of snow-clearing and de-icing operations.

Plante offered her assurance that the city is doing all it can to minimize the impact of an early winter on pedestrian and vehicular traffic, as well as on public transit.

For 61 years, George Garage in Saint-Henri had a motto — it never turned customers away — until today.

"We're really totally, totally overwhelmed and everything, said the garage's owner, Rita Pazezanac. "We're actually in trouble a little bit, because we have too many people who want to change their snow tires."

Quebec moved up the deadline to install winter tires this year, from Dec. 15 to Dec. 1, which didn't help matters, she said.

Between the approaching deadline and the early snowfall, it means anyone who hasn't made an appointment at a Montreal-area garage to have their tires changed already may be in for a long wait.

There were about a dozen people waiting outside Pneu Gordons on Cavendish Boulevard just after 6 a.m. Monday, said manager Steven Kelly — and none of them had appointments. 

Many people did make appointments a little earlier this year, Kelly said, but most of the employees at the garage had their winter tires on before Thanksgiving.

"There's a definitely a misconception that putting your winter tires on too early is going to ruin them. Definitely winter tires on your car in July aren't going to be healthy for the tire, but … you can put your winters on in early October," he told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

Montreal's city buses do not have winter tires — but measures are taken to improve traction on the regular tires, the STM says.

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