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June 18, 2019
Recently, there have been multiple incidents involving unauthorized dumping throughout various streets and parks across the City. These illegal... Lire la suite Read more
June 18, 2019
Pickleball’s popularity is growing! The City of Dollard-des-Ormeaux is making everything available for its residents to enjoy it.We currently have... Lire la suite Read more
June 14, 2019
The West Island Blues Festival will not be held on June 15, because weather forecasts indicate that there will be between 10 and 15 millimetres of... Lire la suite Read more
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Accueil / Home > Snow Removal Operations > FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
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FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

We spoke to Mr. Mark Gervais, Director of Public Works with 30 years of experience with the City and Mr. Jack Benzaquen, City Manager with 19 years of experience with the City. They are responding to questions and comments our residents had concerning snow removal operations this winter.

Mr. Benzaquen starts by explaining Public Work’s normal snow removal operations.

“Public Work’s snow removal operations are reviewed yearly as well as during the season to meet all the needs of our residents, whether minor or major. The staff in the department have been with us for many years. They are dedicated and hardworking. We also are continually collaborating with neighbouring cities and boroughs to optimize our operations to provide the best services for our residents.

Click the question to be directed to its answer:

WHAT WAS DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS WINTER?

WHY IS THERE SO MUCH ICE ON THE STREETS?

WHY ARE OUR SIDEWALKS SO ICY?

WHY DOESN'T THE CITY CLEAR THE PILE OF SNOW LEFT AT THE BOTTOM OF MY DRIVEWAY AFTER THE PLOW HAS CLEARED THE STREET?

WHY DO SOME STREETS GET PLOWED OR TREATED SOONER THAN OTHERS?

WHY NOT HIRE AUXILIARY WORKERS?

WHY NOT USE OVERTIME?

WHAT CAN BE DONE IF AN ICE BANK PREVENTS ACCESS TO MY DRIVEWAY AFTER MY STREET WAS CLEARED OF ICE?

SO IS THERE NOTHING THAT CAN BE DONE TO IMPROVE SNOW OPERATIONS?

WHAT WAS DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS WINTER?

Mr. Gervais answers:

“This has been a very challenging winter. The cycles of snow, deep freeze, sudden thaw with rain and immediate deep freeze repeated over and over is very atypical, leaving employees with few options as to how to remove the streets and sidewalks. There is a total of over 600 lane kilometres of roads and 80 kilometres of sidewalks for the City to clear during and after a snowfall.”

WHY IS THERE SO MUCH ICE ON THE STREETS?

Mr. Gervais answers:

“We have experienced one-day thaws a few times since mid-January. Each of these thaw days was followed by flash freezes to - 10°C or less. These temperature swings of 15 to 20 degrees melted the snow on the street; then flash froze the partially melted slush vehicles have driven through.

Each of these thaw days, rain and melt runoff was pooling in the streets due to storm drains being obstructed. We had to choose between two situations:

  1. Put all of our resources on unblocking of the hundreds of snow-buried storm drains to allow rain and snow melt runoff to flow to ensure that private residences with down-sloping driveways are not flooded, OR
  2. Plow all the streets while they are slushy so our residents can have nice on-asphalt conditions?

We decided to unblock the storm drains. We then started de-icing operations when the weather was favourable to it.”

Mr. Benzaquen adds, “In anticipation of the situation worsening, Council gave the order to hire extra contractors. However, this process took a few days as these contractors themselves were busy with their own operations and the City was forced to wait a few days. This delay had a snowball effect on the state of our streets.

WHY ARE OUR SIDEWALKS SO ICY?

Mr. Gervais answers:

“Salt is used on the priority arterial and collector roads, and sand/abrasive pea stone is used on the residential non-priority roads to provide better traction.

It’s important to note that salt only melts ice up to -12°C. This winter, the sudden rising temperature, and rain or freezing rain followed very quickly with another deep freeze created an ice rink, layer by layer. The salt and abrasives we put down helped but were soon swept away by the water and snow melt runoff of the next thaw or buried under a new layer of ice.

Our de-icing operations started at the beginning of February. However, they needed to be put aside during every new snowfall since snow removal operations began again and our crews cannot conduct both operations simultaneously because the same vehicles are used for both.”

WHY DOESN'T THE CITY CLEAR THE PILE OF SNOW LEFT AT THE BOTTOM OF MY DRIVEWAY AFTER THE PLOW HAS CLEARED THE STREET?

Mr. Gervais answers:

“The pile of snow at the bottom of the driveway which is left behind after the plow has cleared the street is created due to the snowplow not having a place to push snow except to the curb or shoulder of the road. The City does not clear this snow because to do so would require additional equipment and staffing resources which are prohibitively costly. Taxpayers would be asked to pay a considerable premium on top of their current tax bill for the City to provide this service. Moreover, our employees are already working overtime to take care of snow and ice removal operations.

Further to clearing streets and sidewalks, we also have to clear fire hydrants. We have over a thousand to clear with each new snowfall to ensure our residents’ safety. To lighten the load and concentrate more on removing snow and ice from streets and sidewalks, we ask our residents not to put snow on top of the fire hydrants. ”

WHY DO SOME STREETS GET PLOWED OR TREATED SOONER THAN OTHERS?

Mr. Gervais answers:

“The City’s snow plan is designed to progressively clear all of the streets within it. As one can imagine, with a fixed amount of snow clearing machines on the road, not all of the streets can be done at the same time. This reality calls for a prioritization plan to efficiently clear our streets of snow and to allow for easy traffic flow.

Consequently, the City is divided into 13 snow clearing sectors. A piece of snow-clearing equipment is assigned to each of these sectors with the goal of providing a clearing pass on each street every 4 hours during snowfall. Clearing of sidewalks, pathways and bus stops are undertaken concurrently with the above operations.

Dollard-des-Ormeaux’s City Council approved snow plan calls for arterial and collector streets to be cleared of snow first and for residential streets and City buildings’ parking lots to be done afterward.

Ideally, we can clear a big snowstorm in 7 days. This year, many storms with short thaw periods have occurred in a small time frame. It, therefore, takes more time than usual to finish our snow removal operations, since they need to be restarted after each snowfall.

Moreover, when the snowfall starts and ends significantly affects the timing of passes on our residential streets. As an example, snowplow passes will be prioritized in the early afternoon before the evening rush hour, but there may be a rest period for our drivers in the 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. period when there is much less traffic on the roads. If it is snowing hard, there will undoubtedly be an accumulation of snow before our pre-morning rush hour plowing begins at about 4 a.m. This is unavoidable as we must respect new provincial laws requiring prescribed rest periods for our plow drivers.

Of course, aside from mandatory rest periods for our employees, all sorts of things can go wrong, and any number of things can impede our progress in plowing our streets. This includes road accidents, machinery breakdowns or even cars parked on the street hindering the plows' ability to pass.”

WHY NOT HIRE AUXILIARY WORKERS?

Mr. Gervais answers:

“It is hard to get qualified workers for jobs requiring the operation of heavy-duty vehicles. Even if we could find additional personnel on such short notice, they would soon be without work between storms. The cost of the added workers would then impact our residents’ taxes.”

WHY NOT USE OVERTIME?

Mr. Gervais answers:

“We have used all the possible overtime hours our employees are permitted without contravening the provincial law stating workers need mandatory rest periods. Our employees often worked 13 consecutive hours to remove as much snow or ice as possible, then, as the law states, took the required 11 hours of rest.

Moreover, we have contacted many contractors to help us remove snow and ice. As we speak, the City has four contracts with contractors to supplement our crews. These contractors also worked overtime, and their employees are subject to the same rest periods mandated by the provincial law.”


WHAT CAN BE DONE IF AN ICE BANK PREVENTS ACCESS TO MY DRIVEWAY AFTER MY STREET WAS CLEARED OF ICE?

Mr. Benzaquen answers.

“Our crews are progressively removing ice from our streets. While doing this, ice bank may be created. If your driveway is blocked by an ice bank, three options are available.

  1. Build a ramp by packing snow and ice taken from around you at the end of your driveway, or by breaking the ice, if possible.
  2. Ask your neighbors for help or ask them if you can park in their driveway
  3. Park your car in the street and call the Municipal Patrol Department to obtain a parking permit.

This is an extreme situation and I believe our residents can help each other overcome it.”

SO IS THERE NOTHING THAT CAN BE DONE TO IMPROVE SNOW OPERATIONS?

Mr. Gervais answers:

“The most powerful tool during snow removal operation is teamwork between residents and City employees.

Residents should ensure that the companies they have contracted to remove snow from their driveways place that snow on their property and not in the street. Residents must also make sure to park their vehicles in their driveways to free the street for City snow removal crews.

City employees should ensure that the streets are cleared within seven days of a big snowfall, provided they are not impeded by things mentioned earlier. We must also place salt and abrasives on priority, secondary, collector and residential streets to provide traction for our residents’ commutes.

Using teamwork, we can get through this winter.

Our website provides more details about our snow removal operations here. If this message has not answered all of your questions, please email us at communication@ddo.qc.ca.

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