Snow, ice, rain, black ice: snow removal in Montréal is a galactic challenge. Stéphane Bellavance takes you on a voyage to find out how Montréal’s teams successfully complete their mission of clearing snow from the 10,000 km of streets and sidewalks despite the obstacles and vagaries of the weather.
Day and night, all winter long, thousands of men and women go to work for you to clear snow and spread salt and abrasives on Montréal’s streets and sidewalks.
The mission: make the city accessible as fast as possible
Montréal is a city of changing seasons, where we have to deal with snow and cold for a good part of the year. Our crews will clear the streets and sidewalks to make it easier for you, not to mention emergency vehicles and buses, to get around.
Couldn’t we just pile up the snow in the streets? Find the answer in this video!
Our winters are changing
Winters come and go, but they’re not all the same. Climate change is causing temperature fluctuations and increasing precipitation of all kinds: snow, freezing rain, ice pellets…
How can we adapt? How can we deal with sudden changes in precipitation? Montréal receives about 190 cm of snow and 175 mm of rain or freezing rain in winter. Snow followed by rain followed by rapid cooling is the most difficult situation to deal with.
How can we melt the ice or increase the grip? A mixture of salt and small stones remains the most effective choice for a city as large and densely populated as Montréal. Though salt melts ice when temperatures range between 0⁰ C to -15⁰ C, crushed rock increases the grip of tires and boots when salt loses its effectiveness.
Find out how our teams deal with it.
A snowy obstacle course
Garbage, brown bins, trees, vehicles: just some of the many obstacles getting in the way of snow removal crews, and slowing them down.
To help our crews clear the snow faster, leave your garbage, recycling and brown bins on your own property and park your car parallel to the sidewalk, 30 cm (one foot) away from it. However, when snow removal is in progress, park your car on another street, where it’s allowed.
Find out how you can do your part to make snow removal easier.
10,000 km of streets and sidewalks to be cleared of snow
For real! Ten thousand kilometres is the equivalent of clearing the road between Montréal and Québec City 40 times! Few cities have to handle the size, density and climatic conditions of Montréal. The city stands out for its turnkey snow removal service, whereas in many other large cities, citizens must remove snow from the sidewalk in front of their home themselves.
The type of precipitation and the speed and time of day at which the snow falls, for example during rush hour, can make operations more complex. Wet, heavier snow is more difficult to push. When the snow falls quickly, you have to clear the same places more than once.
Learn more about the strategies used to coordinate work and prioritize the busiest streets.
Ten Olympic stadiums of snow
Every winter, our teams collect the equivalent of 10 Olympic stadiums full of snow. It takes four days and four nights of work to remove 15 cm of snow. If more precipitation falls during removal, the operation must be prolonged or even repeated.
Montréal is one of the few cities in the world that collects snow and stores it on huge lots where it will take months to melt. The melt water is filtered and the waste contained in the snow is transported to the dump. Another portion of the snow is discharged into the city’s sewer system. The water flowing through it melts the snow, which then turns into water to be cleaned and returned to the river.
Find out what you can do to help snow removal operations.