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Remarks on the difficulties related to snow removal this winter

Wednesday 27 February 2019

Like many Quebec municipalities, the City of Saint-Lambert has noted that snow removal operations have proven highly complex since the beginning of the winter. 

“We are aware that it is more difficult to get around on some secondary streets due to ice accumulation. Extreme temperature variations combined with alternating rain and snow have made snow removal operations very difficult, especially when vehicles are parked on the street and hinder optimal clearing. We assure you that the public works team is providing the best possible service with the available resources and in the face of the unpredictable situations they must contend with,” said Mayor Pierre Brodeur.

The City of Saint-Lambert wishes to assure residents of the high level of its snow removal planning and the rigour of its policy. The model that was put in place is based on the average conditions of previous winters, which did not apply this year. This winter’s roller coaster weather conditions, our limited manpower and the breakdowns due to excessive use of machinery have hampered operations to date.

“Despite excellent preparation, you must understand that when the crew is in the process of loading snow onto the trucks and at the same time precipitation is falling in the form of rain or freezing rain, they must make a choice: either stop loading and start spreading abrasives, or continue loading or divide up the team. The number of qualified workers is limited not only by the budget but also because it is impossible to keep a qualified workforce on call for a few times a year,” noted the mayor.

The City of Saint-Lambert must also ensure the health and safety of its workers. When heavy snow accumulations occur within a few days of each other, residents should expect additional delays, as the City must respect the rules governing the number of driving and rest hours for heavy vehicle operators. Bill 430 provides for 36 hours of rest after 70 hours of work accumulated over a period of 7 consecutive days.

“This mandatory off-duty time is regulated by the Government of Québec to ensure the safety of employees and other road users. Rest assured that employees are committed to the safety of residents. However, as employers, we must nevertheless provide them with the necessary conditions to do their jobs well,” said Mr. Brodeur.

These problems are not exclusive to Saint-Lambert; they affect municipalities across Quebec. In fact, several cities have asked the Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ) to set up a working committee to discuss snow removal and other related issues, such as the cost of abrasives, ecological alternatives, more versatile equipment and a possible relaxation of Bill 430 during the winter.

“We will follow the work of this committee very closely to be able to more easily adapt to the new realities. Our priority will always remain to offer the best possible service, while respecting our fellow citizens’ ability to pay,” concluded the Mayor.