City looking to change snow removal system
Published Thursday, February 5, 2009 11:09AM EST
The city says it will implement new rules to prevent accidents--fatal or otherwise-- involving snow vehicles.
The comments are in reaction to the deaths of three people Tuesday in two separate accidents involving the large trucks that take snow to the dump.
In both cases, the trucks were turning right on a green light and crushed the pedestrians under the wheels.
A third incident Wednesday morning saw a snow blower rear-end a vehicle. The car suffered considerable damage. The city says no one was injured.
Rules not being followed
"This morning I heard a truck driver saying he slept six hours in 80 hours, it's incredible," said Luis Miranda, the man in charge of snow removal operations for the city. "We're going to implement some measures to control to make sure that these guys take a rest."
Miranda, who was appointed nine days ago, says he has spoken to the boroughs to make sure they are monitoring their independent contractors.
The city relies on independent contractors for snow removal. While Transport Quebec laws say contractors cannot work more than 70 hours a week, some skirt the legalities by working for multiple companies or multiple boroughs that do not check each other's logs.
"It is a possibility that drivers are double-shifting," said Daniel Menniti whose company Marina Inc. works for the city, clearing streets after snow storms. "Sure, provincial regulations are in place to be able to inspect drivers' logbooks, but is it being done?"
Miranda said there are not enough inspectors to check all the logs. He also said they are looking into the practice of paying a contractor by the load. Some drivers are still skeptical that the promises the city is making now will not bear fruit.
"It's not realistic," says Francois Pilon of Deneigement Cote-des-Neiges. "It's just to satisfy the public outcry right now. The city is under pressure from the citizens like you and me to have it done. We live in a Nordic climate but we do not accept to have snowstorms?"
Jeannette Holman-Price is the mother of 21-year-old Jessica Holman-Price, who was killed on Sherbrooke St. in 2005. A snow removal truck came around a corner, and her 10-year-old brother began to slip underneath it when it moved the mound of snow they were standing on. She was able to push her brother to safety before slipping under the wheels.
Her mother has started a campaign advocating for better safety features on the trucks, such as guard rails. They also want the province to get rid of part of the no-fault insurance laws.
"It was complete disbelief," when she heard, she told CTV Montreal. "I couldn't believe that after all that we've tried, nobody has paid attention and people are still dying.
"They're driving lethal weapons," she said "They need their wits about them."