A battle is brewing between the City of Montreal and its boroughs over snow removal – namely, who gets to initiate an operation to remove the fluffy white stuff before it hardens into something far less pleasant.

Last week, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante sent a letter to the boroughs, demanding they do a better job on removal. Anjou Mayor Luis Miranda was among those who were unhappy with the letter, saying the current state of roads is the city’s fault.

“Montreal is blaming us for not doing our job, and in other circumstances they say ‘No, don’t do it,’” he said.

Anjou will defy central city

Miranda said he plans to defy the city’s orders on snow removal when he sees fit, saying he had wanted to clear snow that fell in late November and early December, but was denied permission. Had the operation gone forward, Miranda said the snow wouldn’t have had a chance to harden into ice that’s clogged sewers and created dangerous conditions.

“Yes, we did pick up some snow in January, but we picked up the surface only,” he said. “We couldn’t remove the ice.”

In 2015, Montreal’s snow removal was centralized by the Coderre administration, with the city giving orders on when to start cleaning, but leaving the ‘how’ of operations to the boroughs.

Last winter, Montreal threatened to fine the Anjou borough for clearing snow without permission.

“Every year, he (Miranda) says the same thing,” said JF Parenteau, the Montreal Executive Committee member responsible for snow removal.

Parenteau said clearing snow in late November wouldn’t have made a difference.

“It’s ridiculous to say it’s because of last November, we’re in February right now,” he said. “It’s four months ago, so all the boroughs had time to make the difference.”

Montreal will re-evaluate snow clearing

Parenteau added that the city will revisit its snow removal policy in August.

Miranda said he hopes that will lead to the return of control to the boroughs.

“I want my streets back,” he said. “I want my sidewalks back. That’s what we’re working on.”