De-icing of sidewalks: the developers have carte blanche for spreading

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The Montrealers have not finished rager against the icy sidewalks. Our Office investigation, it was discovered that all the contracts awarded by the City for the past three years are inaccurate or do not require the use of a sufficient quantity of salt.

Archival Photo, QMI AgencyValerie Plant
Mayor of Montreal

The mayor of Montréal, Valérie Plante, recalled two times to the order of the arrondissements, from one week, about the poor condition of the sidewalks.

“I will not accept under any circumstances that the enforcement is not adequate,” she wrote in a letter to the boroughs.

The mayor also asked that the service be “without fault on the whole of our territory”.

However, the new contracts for snow removal, which are written by the city-centre from 2016, leave a lot of room for flaws.

In the five boroughs, the City asked the contractors to apply the same amount of salt and abrasives on the sidewalks, on the basis of 150 grams of abrasive per square metre, regardless of weather.

Always the same

This rate has remained unchanged, even during large episodes of ice that has known the city since two weeks, while 300 g/m2 would have been necessary, said a responsible person of the district who wishes to remain anonymous.

The elected official responsible for the snow removal in the administration Plante, Jean-François Parenteau, admits that the 150 g/m2 it is “too little”.

“If a district is in this contract, the city-centre provides the abrasive added to compensate”, he says.

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However, some districts have chosen not to venture into the complex operation consisting of calculating the amount of abrasive additional to provide to the contractor, and to recover the surplus at the end of the winter.

The borough of Ahuntsic-Cartierville, for his part, said having his hands tied by this contract that says it has been done by the city-centre.

“The quantities that are listed in the quote are those that must follow the entrepreneurs,” says the communications officer Michèle Blais.

New contracts… imprecise

The City has tried to correct the shot in 2017, but the new agreements open the door to other problems.

Montreal now lets entrepreneurs decide the quantity of the abrasives to spread, “according to the weather conditions”. The minimum rate is 150 g/m2, and the maximum is 300 g/m2.

“The estimates leave a large margin of manoeuvre, says the leader of the opposition at city hall, Lionel Perez. It is normal that the entrepreneurs who pay their salt try to reduce their costs.”

In his borough, the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, the contractor had chosen a rate of 225 g/m2 before the director of public works upon it, at the end of January, increasing the amount of salt the maximum.

The mayor of the borough of Verdun, Jean-François Parenteau, does not believe that the new standards are problematic.

“Now, we told the contractor to bring it safe. He can not say that it does not pass four times because it is written three times to the contract,” a judge is elected.

“The director of public works [for each district], its job is to give guidance to its contractors and ensure that the work is well done”, storm Mr. Parenteau.

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5 boroughs where the quantities applied are insufficient

  • Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve
  • Lachine
  • Plateau-Mont-Royal
  • Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension
  • Areas of Ahuntsic-Cartierville

7 boroughs where the requested quantities are imprecise

  • Montreal-North
  • Outremont
  • Saint-Léonard
  • South-West
  • Ville-Marie
  • Sectors of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
  • Areas of Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles

“Do your “job”, mr. of the opposition, the mayors of the opposition, my mayors, to be on the ground, talonnez your directors of the district, make sure that the job is done.” – Valérie Plante, mayor of Montreal

From “old contracts” more accurate

Only two boroughs give very specific instructions to the contractors responsible for maintaining the sidewalks, and their leaders believe that it is the best solution.

In Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie and a part of Ahuntsic-Cartierville, the “old” contracts are still in force. The amount of salt and abrasives is specified depending on the temperature.

  • 0 °C to -10 °C: 150 g/m2
  • -11 °C to -15 °C: 200 g/m2
  • < -15 °C: 250 g/m2

The number of passes of the spreader is also specified according to the rainfall pattern.

“When we arrived to power in 2009, there were no specific criteria. We wanted to be really well defined and it has almost tripled the amount of abrasive, ” says the mayor of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, François Croteau. It has a cost, but it is something that one has decided to assume.”

More uniform

The division of public works of Ahuntsic-Cartierville recognizes that it would be preferable to refer to these contracts.

“The precision on the amount of abrasive applied would give a uniformity in the district,” explains Michèle Blais, of the borough.

The old contracts very accurate and expire at the end of the winter and will be replaced by those of the city-centre, which would pose a problem.

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But the mayor of Rosemont says it will not drop the specific criteria of the ib, which work very well according to him.

“The tenders are to be prepared in consultation with the boroughs. We have still a word to say,” said Mr. Croteau.

However, from 2016, any district not specified application rate different from that required for the city-centre in the local specifications of the quote.