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Montreal launches first round of major snow removal program

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It's not winter in Montreal until the plow trucks roll in. The city was blanketed in fresh snow over the weekend, and officials say they're ready to start clearing roads, sidewalks and bike paths.

Nearly 2,200 snow removal vehicles and 3,000 workers will be dispatched around the city. Depending on where you live, the schedule will vary, but operations started at 7 a.m. on Tuesday.

"It's the first real snowfall of the winter and I think everyone is enjoying the scenery. Everything is white, the trees are beautiful and it will be white for the Holidays!" wrote Lachine Borough Mayor Maja Vodanovic in a press release with details of the plan. Vodanovic is in charge of borough consultations for the City of Montreal.  

Residents can monitor the plows' progress online here. A map view is available here

PARKING

The city says it will provide nearly 8,000 free parking spots to ease the pain of plow schedules. Most of them will be available overnight. It also promised to remove no-parking signs due to snow clearing "rapidly."

Crews will pay "particular attention" to sidewalks, the city says. It also asked people to respect the plow schedules or risk having their vehicles towed.

If your vehicle was towed, you must contact 311 to find out where it was moved.

If snow clearing causes material damage to your property, you can submit a claim here.

Snow-clearing schedules will be added to physical parking signs and available digitally through the Info-Neige mobile app. Residents can download the app from Google Play or the Apple App Store.

Plow drivers will find their biggest job in the Rivière-des-Prairies─Pointe-aux-Trembles borough, where snowy streets amount to 729 kilometres that must be cleared.

The city is asking residents in all boroughs to do what they can to speed up the job.

"To help our crews clear the snow faster, leave your garbage, recycling and brown bins on your own property," reads an advisory on the city's website.

FILE: A plow clears snow from a sidewalk during a snowstorm in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

WHERE DOES THE SNOW GO?

While many were left without power, home from school, or stuck in their driveways due to this weekend's snowfall, the city typically expects to get 1.9 metres of snow through the winter months.

In total, crews have to clear more than 10,000 kilometres of streets and sidewalks.

"This is the equivalent of the distance between Montréal and Beijing, or 40 times the distance between Montreal and Quebec City," reads the city's website.

Areas used by emergency services are cleared first, as well as drinking water treatment facilities. As for streets, major roads like Sherbrooke St. and Pie-IX Blvd are at the top of the list. After major arteries are plowed, the trucks head to the collector streets that connect main roads to other big streets. Residential areas come last.

Roadways, sidewalks and bike paths are supposed to be cleared at the same rate, though bike paths may appear to be given priority. The city says lanes reserved for bicycles are faster to clear because they are generally free from obstacles. Bike lanes are also typically paved with asphalt, which retains heat better than the concrete used for sidewalks. That retained heat melts fallen snow more quickly.

Most collected snow is taken to a series of dump facilities, where it will remain for months as it melts. Trash that might have been picked up with the snow is separated and thrown away.

About a quarter of the snow is dumped into large sewer chutes, which lead to water treatment plants. Once the water is filtered, it's returned to the river.  

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