West Island neighbours lend a helping hand after snow removal company goes under
MONTREAL -- Residents in Montreal’s West Island are taking it on themselves to lend a helping hand to those who were abandoned after well-known snow removal company Bo-Pelouse announced it was shuttering.
One resident says he woke up early Tuesday morning to shovel his driveway, but noticed that someone had already done it for him.
“I never asked for help. I guess they saw the Bo-Pelouse posts. Amazing. Thank you to whoever it was,” Sam wrote on Facebook.
Several other residents tell CTV News they’ve been connecting on social media all morning, pairing volunteer shovellers with those in need – often seniors or people living with disabilities.
"This effects me more than most because my safety depends on this," said Dorval resident and former Bo Pelouse customer Katherine Kilcullen, who uses a wheelchair. "It's one thing to not get your car out of the driveway, but if I can't get my wheelchair over this stuff ... "
Bo-Pelouse revealed Monday it was closing its doors after 30 years in business – right before a significant snowstorm blanketed Montreal.
A message posted to the company’s website from the owner states, “for the last four years, the company was struggling, but I was always able to get it back on track.”
“It became painfully evident that I could not this time,” Marc Guindon writes. “I have lived, participated, donated, created employment and raised my family in this community. I know that some of you are angry and disappointed, as am I.”
Guindon denied rumours that he is taking “huge amounts of money to go live abroad,” saying that “I am losing all that I have worked for those 30 years.”
A customer phoned CTV News to say that VISA is reimbursing people for the services they did not receive.
Since the news surfaced, other snow removal companies, including Southwest Garden and Snow and Grizzly Snow Removal, have stepped up to help those who have been left stranded and snowed in.
Dan Olah from Southwest Garden and Snow told CTV News Monday he is taking names and phone numbers from anyone who reaches out to him.
Alanna Roszkowski, co-owner of DLC, which owns Grizzly Snow Removal, says it has hired almost 20 drivers from Bo-Pelouse.
"Grizzly has reserved 500 spots for seniors in need of snow removal," she said, adding the company has multiple tractors circulating to help anyone that needs their driveway cleared.
"This is a one-time courtesy gesture free of charge for any resident needing assistance. To signal your need for assistance, just turn your Bo-Pelouse sleeves upside down by lifting the sleeve and placing it back on the rod."
Customers are unlikely to get their money back, according to civil law attorney Leon Greenberg.
"All of this requires fees for trustees, perhaps fees for lawyers, and ultimately in my experience the expense of doing this as well as the time and effort is generally not worth while," he said.
On a Facebook page set up by former Bo-Pelouse customers, some said they had contacted their credit card companies and received partial refunds, but not everyone will be able to do that, according to Greenberg.
"It would depend on the visa agreement with their customers, but to my knowledge there is no such obligation of Visa if the customer paid the amount, intending to pay voluntarily," he said.