After the storm, Montreal commences cleanup

Forty centimetres fell between Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, and the city was wasting no time sending out the snow-removal crews.

No-parking signs were going up on Iberville St. in preparation for snow removal operations on Wednesday. Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette

Montreal is getting back to normal after a major snowstorm closed schools, clogged roads and sidewalks and convinced many workers to take a snow day.

The clean-up is underway.

Forty centimetres of snow fell between Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, Environment Canada meteorologist Marie-Ève Giguère said.

During an average snow season (October to April), about 210 centimetres fall on Montreal. So far this season, with more than two months to go, the tally is 180 cm, according to Environment Canada statistics.

The intense storm led all public schools on Montreal Island to cancel classes Wednesday. CEGEPs and universities followed suit. They are all expected to reopen Thursday. Canada Post canceled mail delivery across Quebec due to severe weather.

Snow crews plowing roads and sidewalks were helped by the lack of students on the road and the fact that many workers heeded officials’ calls to stay home or use public transit.

Danny Lee shovels the sidewalk outside his business on Metcalfe St. on Wednesday. Allen McInnis / Montreal Gazette

But Société de transport de Montréal buses were slowed by the sheer amount of snow on Montreal roads, leaving some commuters facing long delays. And many who opted for Exo commuter trains were thwarted by delays and mechanical breakdowns. Only one of Exo’s six lines — Mont-St-Hilaire — was problem-free Wednesday.

The city of Montreal said workers spreading abrasives and plowing snow prioritized areas around hospitals, public transport stops and major arteries.

Starting Wednesday evening, about 2,200 snow removal vehicles were to begin hauling away snow, an operation expected to take about a week.

Mayor Valérie Plante’s administration has been criticized for how it has handled snow and ice removal during a winter marked by wild temperature fluctuations and a wide variety of precipitation, from rain to freezing drizzle to freezing rain to snow.

Ensemble Montréal, the opposition party at city hall, says Montreal’s poor planning is to blame for thick layers of ice found on some streets and sidewalks.

On Wednesday, Plante said it will cost between $25 million and $35 million to remove the latest snowfall.

Eloi Morin takes a jump as he slides down the hill at Lafontaine Park on Wednesday. Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette

The original plan had been to start the snow-removal operation on Thursday morning.

“We’re going to start taking away all the snow (Wednesday night) because we didn’t want to wait till (Thursday) morning,” Plante said.

“We know a lot of people will be working tomorrow morning so if we can do as much as we can overnight, tonight, it’s great. But of course it will take some time.”

She said people should take the métro if possible, noting Wednesday’s ride was smooth, likely because many children and their parents stayed home. Thursday’s commute would undoubtedly be much busier, she said.

Jean-François Parenteau, the executive committee member responsible for snow clearing, urged Montrealers to respect no-parking signs and to steer clear of snow-removal vehicles.

In Quebec City, Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault told reporters Wednesday morning that the province was coping with the storm and there were no deaths or major incidents.

“I really want to thank citizens who contributed to this collective effort and all the personnel working to make sure everyone is safe on our roads,” Guilbault said.

Montreal’s weather rollercoaster ride may continue in the coming days.

Environment Canada says more snow may fall Thursday, possibly followed by rain on Friday as the temperature shoots up above zero. The forecast for Saturday: sunny with a high of -3 C.


Philip Authier and René Bruemmer of the Montreal Gazette contributed to this story.

[email protected]




You may also like...