Sunday, April 18

Picking up snow without picking up the virus

No more union breaks, the departures of multiple convoys in the middle of the night and carpooling. Montreal had to adapt its snow removal operations to COVID-19, with one fear in mind: a viral outbreak in the middle of a storm, a city paralyzed as a result.

Philippe Teisceira-LessardPhilippe Teisceira-Lessard

Since the start of winter, the elected representative in charge of snow removal at the City of Montreal, Jean-François Parenteau, has been in a good mood. The weather was fairly stable, which made it easier to pick up the snow, and his service was able to prevent any outbreaks.

Last summer and fall, while planning for the coming winter, the chosen one was less smiling.

“I must admit that I had a huge fear about the snow removal season. Winter in Montreal is already complex, ”he recently told Press, in front of the Verdun borough town hall.

The fear was a major outbreak that would have come to paralyze operations. It was a real danger. When loading, the delay is important. It is [aussi] a matter of public safety.

Jean-François Parenteau, elected responsible for snow removal at the City of Montreal

Mr. Parenteau also feared “that we will have difficulty with towing because of too many cars parked because people work from home.”

Multiple starting points

To guard against the virus, a firm framework for blue-collar workers (and subcontractors) has been put in place: employees are organized into bubbles within which they can work and rest. But contact between these groups is prohibited. The idea, “is to always limit the possibilities of contamination,” said Mr. Parenteau. “The risk is really at the outbreak level. If there is an outbreak, you lose your team, ”but not all the staff in a borough, for example.

Adaptation is sometimes difficult. Employees are used to getting together before the start of operations; they must now give each other separate meeting points. Some boroughs even use park cabins and other municipal facilities as rallying points for employees.

“Traditionally, the parking agent would go up with the tow truck driver to issue tickets. Now he can no longer ”, continues the borough mayor.

No hatching, less tows

Jean-François Parenteau has so far painted a positive assessment of the season: not only has no bubble been compromised by a case of COVID-19, but Montrealers do not seem to forget their car in the street, despite teleworking.

In absolute numbers, we have fewer tows this year than last year on the same date, when there are more cars and more people.

Jean-François Parenteau, elected responsible for snow removal at the City of Montreal

Mr. Parenteau feared a “catastrophic” scenario where thousands of Montrealers would have forgotten their car in the street because they no longer use it.

Montreal now allows motorists to return to their parking spaces just after the loading convoy has passed – even if the prohibition period has not ended – which may have contributed to reducing the number of tickets issued. . “People will take a tour of the operating room during the operation and come back after the operation,” he explained.

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