Sidewalks heating: cities of the nordic use of proven technologies

Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le Devoir
The redevelopment of the Sainte-Catherine street, from Atwater avenue in the entertainment District, began Monday. This project is necessary to replace the underground infrastructure, old a hundred years, but the City will take the opportunity to expand sidewalks, plant more trees and provide access to the Wi-Fi on the street.

Montreal has analyzed several technologies before deciding on the sidewalks heated glycol for the project of reconstruction of the Sainte-Catherine street West. Even if the operating costs of this technology are less expensive than the other systems, the administration Plant plans to abandon this idea. A missed opportunity, according to some observers.


Other cities in northern in the world have, however, sidewalks heating. In February 2017, a delegation of the City of Montreal was made in Oslo (Norway), Helsinki (Finland) and Reykjavik (Iceland) to verify the effectiveness of the sidewalks heated.


The majority of the systems worked, said Marilyne Laroche Corbeil, publicist to the City of Montreal.


For the rue Sainte-Catherine, the City has considered a number of scenarios.


Cable electric heating could be incorporated into the concrete, or deposited under the pavement, but this system may be affected by corrosion, precise-t-on.


Another technology, the concrete resistance integrated developed by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, provides for the installation of metal fibres directly into the concrete. The system is still ” in progress “, estimated the City.


The City has finally chosen the system type hydronic with a network of pipes circulating a mixture of water and glycol that is heated up by electricity.


“This technology is the most widespread in the world when it comes to heating large areas. The benefits are primarily maintenance, lower capital and operating costs and the very significant decrease of the corrosion problems observed on those facilities with electrical wires heated, ” explains Ms. Laroche Corbeil.


The City has also investigated geothermal energy, but this option was rejected due to issues of feasibility, cost and effectiveness.


The northern character


The sidewalks heated, the cost of which is estimated to be 26 million, would allow the City to reduce the degradation of its infrastructure due to the passage of heavy machinery and the use of de-icing salts. But the administration Plant hesitant due to the problems encountered at the place Vauquelin, where the system installed last summer is still not functional.


A professor in the Department of urban studies and tourism at UQAM, François Racine is a pity that the City waives the sidewalks heated : “We lack a unique opportunity to demonstrate that Montréal is negotiating harmoniously with its northern character. “


This professor is of the opinion that the City might draw lessons from the experience of the place Vauquelin ” to ensure a realization according to the rules of the art on the rue Sainte-Catherine “. “I have concerns, however, regarding the leakage of glycol, a highly toxic pollutant “, he says.


Otherwise, the City could opt for the heating cables. According to him, the corrosion problems are not insurmountable. “It is possible to choose sheaths, corrosion-resistant,” he says.


“Even without the sidewalks heated, the urban design proposed for the redevelopment is innovative in the sense that it gives an important place for pedestrians in the city. “


Destination Centre-ville was in favor of the sidewalks heated, but would have liked the City to choose an option that is more ” innovative “, such as geothermal energy.


“We didn’t agree with the idea of spending a million a year to heat the sidewalks,” said its director-general, André Poulin.


Other sidewalks heating exist in Montreal, but they are of a lesser magnitude. The two entrances to the building of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec are furnished with panel heaters in the glycol.


“It works well, but the system is not intended to melt the snow in the event of a storm. It allows you to melt snow and ice when there is little. The comparison is not easy because our panel heaters are under canopies, so less exposed than the sidewalks of the rue Sainte-Catherine “, admits Sébastien Théberge senior director, public affairs at Ivanhoé Cambridge.