Why can’t Montreal clear the snow?

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Van Horne congestion due to snowbanks and illegally parked car, on Feb. 12, 2018

Traffic continues to be snarled on Van Horne, west of Decarie, for more than two weeks.  The Borough of Cote des Neiges – NDG’s inability to clear the snowbank is baffling. No less than three types of ‘No Parking’ signs have come and gone yet the snow remains. The afternoon/evening rush hour on this route routinely sees a single lineup of vehicles backing up for blocks, into Decarie, sometimes all the way to Westbury. Is this because of incompetence or lack of resources?

Just a few blocks further the Town of Hampstead does a reasonable job of clearing nearly two full lanes, doubling the flow rate. And beyond that Cote Saint-Luc practically melts the snow from curb to curb.

The police routinely fail to enforce the No Parking restrictions on Van Horne (which I lobbied for several years ago). So even if the snowbank would be cleared illegally parked cars often obstruct the right lane (as photographed above at 5:20PM).

So what’s the problem in Montreal? We should be world leaders at clearing snow. Instead, we’re caught off guard by snow storms, can’t clear ice from sidewalks, our streets are riddled with potholes, and we needlessly waste time in traffic jams. Let’s hope the new administration figures this out quickly and get’s it right for next season. And ticket that car!

‘Municipalities can’t be perfect in snow clearing’ says judge

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Quebec Small Claims Court Judge Eliana Marengo, ruling in favour of the City of Côte St. Luc in a slip and fall case, cited a Supreme Court ruling that municipalities cannot be expected to be perfect in their clearing of snow and ice after storms.

But the judge also praised the city for its cleaning efforts following storms early in 2015.

The Dec. 15, 2016, ruling emanated from a Jan. 6, 2015 incident in which a woman fell on a slippery sidewalk in Côte St. Luc. Her wrist was fractured and surgery had to be performed.

The plaintiff sued the city for $5,500, citing pain and suffering, and alleged that the city was “negligent in the maintenance of its sidewalk, following the inclement weather of Jan. 4, 5, and 6, 2015, which included approximately 50 mm of rain, over 90 cm of snow, as well as freezing rain.”

The city countered that its public works department worked diligently during the same three-day period “with a view to ensure the safety of its citizens.”

The court felt the evidence, which included the testimony of forepersons, a weather report and worksheets, showed that the city indeed “diligently and repeatedly cleaned and salted [the south-west area of the city where the fall took place] over the period in question.”

The judge also pointed out that the Cities and Towns Act states that, generally, “no municipality may be held liable for damage resulting from an accident, of which any person is the victim, on the sidewalks, streets, roads, walkways or bikeways, by reason of the snow or ice, unless the claimant establishes that the said accident was caused by the negligence or fault of the said municipality, the court having to take into account the weather conditions.”

Judge Marengo ruled that the plaintiff could not prove fault or negligence on Côte St. Luc’s part.

“On the contrary, despite the harsh and difficult weather conditions, it appears the defendant took all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of its citizens at this time,” the judge added.

The ruling also cited a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada that “the fact that a person falls on the sidewalk does not necessarily give rise to a claim in damages; the standard of care required of municipalities is not one of perfection; and municipalities are not an insurer of pedestrians.”

The judge dismissed the case against Côte St. Luc.

Snow crews out in force in CSL, making slow, steady progress


I have received many emails from residents of Cote Saint-Luc. Most are quite understanding that this extraordinary snowfall requires a major effort for plowing, and snow blowing.

In Côte Saint-Luc main streets are cleared by a contractor and most of the side streets are cleared by city workers. Both have been out working relentlessly at clearing snow but because of the amount of accumulation – 47 centimeters in CSL – they have been forced to pass several times on the same block to ensure that the snow is cleared.

As well, city crews and contractors must follow the same provincial rules regarding the maximum number of hours that they can work per day and week.

Crews had a productive day today with snow removal even though the temperature has cooled slightly. It is expected that the weather will hold up in the next few days.

By the end of the day, crews will have cleared at least one side on almost every residential street in the City (95%). Main streets are scheduled to be completed and dead-ends, parking lots and public buildings rendered accessible.

CSL crews and foreman have been working full out over the last few days and major clearing will come to a pause over the New Year’s holiday for a necessary rest period. Clearing will resume on January 2.

Please remind your gardeners that they must not block sidewalks that have been plowed, and are supposed to push the snow back up onto your lawn. Crews are doing their utmost to clear up sidewalks so the pedestrians do not have to walk in the street.

Safety is a prime concern. Priority is given to the evacuation lanes, hospitals, schools, municipal buildings… This storm was overwhelming but our city is doing its best. Luckily we haven’t seen this sort of thing since 1971.

Incidentally, I remember that storm well as my brothers and I toboganned off our roof on Cork Ave. As kids, we were thrilled not to see a plow for days. The kids ruled the road!

So I have suggested to my constituents to try to make the best of things for a couple of days and enjoy the weather… and maybe to see the outside through their kids’ eyes for just a little while.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year, Bonne Annee to our snow clearing crews and to all of you! Wishing you good health and happiness in 2013.

Snow Removal Operations – Make sure that you are seen: a rule which can save lives!

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The Montreal Police Department has posted a very good public education piece on safety during snow clearing operations.  This publicity is available in English and French.  Click this link for a quick read for your own safety: Road Safety Campaigns.

Snowbanks, puddles and you

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What wacky weather we’ve been having!  In the last day or so we’ve  received 15 centimetres of snow, some freezing drizzle and lots of steady rain.  Hopefully you’ve worn a good pair of waterproof boots rather than Uggs (the slippers of boots).  My 7-year old daughter found out the hard way last night.

With all this wet stuff our streets are now a real mess.  This is the worst kind of condition according to our Public Works crews.  You can’t really blow this stuff on lawns.  It kind of just dribbles back down making an even bigger mess.  Besides, with all the snow we’ve had in the last week our mountains are a little high outside our homes.

Also, this wet, heavy snow is not good for our snow blowers as they get clogged and machinery breaks down. It’s also very difficult to manipulate the slushy snow once it gets to the snow dump on Marc Chagall Avenue as the bulldozers can’t push it up the hill.

Another problem is that with such a large volume of rain, and rapidly melting snow, we have pretty big puddles since snow is blocking the catch basins. 

The City of Cote Saint-Luc has teams working round the clock during this mild weather.  They struggle to clear all catch basins that are flooded in order to help the water flow down the drain.  You can do your part too by shovelling a path to the drain in front of or close to your house to make a path for all this water.

This will also help to prevent water from seeping into your driveway or garage.

A great big thanks to our hard-working Public Works crews under the leadership of our interim snow guru, Nadia di Furia, who also happens to be the Cote Saint-Luc Human Resources Director and Associate Director General.

If you happen to notice the hydrant in front of your home is covered in snow before city crews shovel it out you can help too by clearing the snow away yourself

Nadia, the foremen and their crews have been working diligently to keep the plows, graders (scrapers), salt trucks, front end loaders, sidewalk Bombardiers, and all the other snow removal vehicles humming.  They’re busy trying to push the snow and water to the sides of the road and off the sidewalks and to remove whatever they can as quickly as possible.  With such dedicated personnel it’s no wonder Cote Saint-Luc has a reputation for the best snow removal around.

Two CSL Public Works crews. An example of our dedicated personnel.

CSL snow removal

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CSL snow removal

The Suburban

December 16, 2009

Côte St. Luc informed motorists of rules “to ensure that snow removal is done in a safe, timely and effective way. Residents are called upon to do their part to help make their roads safe this winter” so that “once precipitation has stopped, the accumulated snow along the edge of these roadways is removed by our snow-blowing equipment.” Some elements:

”The city of Côte St. Luc puts temporary no parking signs on many streets before our snow clearing operation. The goal is to prevent delays in snow clearing caused by vehicles parked on city streets.”

”If you see a temporary no parking sign near your parked vehicle, please move your vehicle. If you don’t, your vehicle may be towed to an adjacent street and you will be fined $97. If your vehicle is towed, you can call 514-485-6960 to find out where it was moved.”

”If you see temporary no parking signs on your street, you might want to consider parking your car overnight at a nearby city parking lot. Call Côte St. Luc public security at 514-485-6960 to find the parking lot closest to your home. (City parking lots may not be used overnight in normal times.)”

Cote Saint-Luc tackles first major snowstorm of the season

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With up to 30 centimeters of snow blanketing Cote Saint-Luc today crews are out in full force to keep our streets and sidewalks plowed and safe for motorists and pedestrians alike.  City crews as well as sub-contractors are responsible for clearing all of our 146 city streets.  While many boroughs and towns in the region struggle to keep their roads passable, not to mention their sidewalks, Cote Saint-Luc is famous for its high level of service when it comes to pushing the snow aside and blowing it off the streets in record time.

In addition to the incredible work by snow plow, snow blower and sidewalk plow operators, security spotters who walk ahead of the blowers and a  variety of other public works crews and  foremen, the city’s emergency services personnel and volunteers are also out on the road to ensure safety and security of our residents and visitors.

Residents can get information on snow clearing in Cote Saint-Luc on the city’s website or by calling 514-485-6800 ext. 8888.

EMS First responders are suited up and ready to answer medical emergency calls in any weather condition.  While ambulances can experience delayed response due to stormy weather and heavier traffic snarls, CSL EMS is typically at their destination within just a few minutes, ready to treat and stabilize the victim prior to arrival of the ambulance.

vCOP crews are also on the road to assist motorists and pedestrians who find themselves in need of assistance.  Police and Public Security officers routinely rely upon our vCOPs for low-level emergency assistance.  In the case of winter storms vCOP crews can help motorists who need an accident report form or to help summon a tow truck and to warn oncoming vehicles of an obstruction. vCOP crews have even spotted residents who had fallen in the snow and needed help to get back up again.

Also worth mentioning, the role of City Councillor is to monitor service levels throughout each department and to ensure residents continue to receive the very best quality possible given the circumstances.  Councillor Steven Erdelyi, responsible for Public Works will surely be out checking that our snow clearing operations meet or exceed our high expectations.  And as usual, as the councillor responsible for Public Safety I will be monitoring all emergency services, often responding myself to monitor or to assist at late hours.

All our services and crews plan for emergency situations.  No matter the weather the City of Cote Saint-Luc is at the ready!

Hampstead’s left turn restrictions destroy gains to traffic flow and threaten relations


I am  greatly concerned about the recent changes the Town of Hampstead has implemented on Fleet Road that has led to wide-spread confusion and slow-downs. Eastbound traffic coming out of Cote Saint-Luc on Fleet has been backed up as a result of these changes.  The green flashing signals do not allow enough cars to pass and the result has been a longer line-up in the left lane, vehicles trying to cut into the right lane, much honking, frustration and near misses.

We have heard of complaints of the back-up from the Western end of Netherwood Crescent (in Hampstead) beyond Pinedale (in CSL) and even as far as Cavendish Blvd.  We have also heard of complaints from Hampstead residents returning from their morning trip to CSL (Bialik, Hebrew Academy, Cavendish Mall, etc…) who are very inconvenienced in not being able to get home efficiently.

The new situation is dangerous, the signals and signs are confusing, contrary to the norm and incomprehensible to many.

This week’s deadly car crash on the Ville Marie Expressway show that confusing road signs can have tragic consequences.  Let’s all learn from this.

Cote Saint-Luc’s improvements to traffic flow followed years of complaints from motorists.  We conducted traffic flow simulations, engaged professional engineers and conducted extensive consultations with city staff, Police, Montreal Transit and the public.  We have invested more than $200,000 so far on Phase 1 of this project.

Hampstead’s changes were done without public consultation.  In fact, the police department was not consulted nor notified in advance.  We wonder if any traffic engineer was consulted as Hampstead has not replied to this question.

While a Hampstead resident claimed that additional traffic is using Fleet (see article below) as a result of Cote Saint-Luc’s modifications at Cavendish the facts as presented by traffic engineers do not support such a claim.

Hampstead’s changes have had the effect of negating the benefits of the new double left turn that the City of Cote Saint-Luc implemented a few months ago and threaten the warm, family-like relations that have flourished since the end of the Lang-Adessky Cold War Years.

Cote Saint Luc and Hampstead Councils obviously share a deep concern for the safety and security of our residents and visitors.  We all want to do what is best for our municipalities, our neighbours and our constituents.  In this spirit, we strongly encourage Hampstead’s Mayor Steinberg, Town Councillors and Hampstead residents to agree to end this trial, remove the new signage, and undertake a public consultation in order to review their objectives with the safety of all concerned at the heart of this matter.

New Hampstead traffic restrictions
By Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban
February 11, 2009

It gets worse…

Traffic on Fleet Rd. and Hampstead snow clearing operations
On the morning of Tuesday, February 24, 2009 the Town of Hampstead conducted snow clearing and snow dumping operations on Fleet Rd. near Queen Mary Rd.

As a result, east-bound traffic from the City of Côte Saint-Luc was backed up, causing frustrating delays for motorists. Hampstead is responsible for this traffic delay and Côte Saint-Luc has asked Hampstead not to perform such snow operations during the morning rush hour as it affects negatively the residents of both municipalities.

>> http://www.cotesaintluc.org/en/node/1540

* * *

La circulation sur le chemin Fleet et les opérations de déversement de neige de Hampstead
Au cours de la matinée du mardi 24 février 2009, la ville de Hampstead a effectué des opérations de déversement de neige et de déneigement sur le chemin Fleet, près du chemin Queen Mary.

Ainsi, la circulation en direction est, en provenance de Côte Saint-Luc, fut grandement ralentie, causant des retards pour les automobilistes. Hampstead est responsable pour ces retards à la circulation. Côte Saint-Luc a demandé à Hampstead de ne pas effectuer de telles opérations durant l’heure de pointe du matin, puisque l’impact négatif de celles-ci se fait ressentir auprès des résidants des deux municipalités.

>> http://www.cotesaintluc.org/fr/node/1541

And more…

Fleet Road:  A saga of two communities, Suburban, Feb. 25, 2009: