Citizens of Montréal, Canada (and many other cities) are all too familiar with what their winters look (and feel) like. If you haven’t spent a winter there, you might not know that the City of Saints experiences an impressive average annual snowfall of 2.1 metres (82 inches).
All that snow has to go somewhere — preferably not on the roads or compacted around our vehicles. Thankfully, Montréal has an aggressive snow removal program. The not so great is that leads to a lot of cars getting towed if they fail to comply with no-parking signs prior to snow removal.
To help you prepare for the snowy days ahead, and keep you out of the impound facility, we’ve collected some information on snow removal in Montréal and how the Winshieldink app can help in the future.
Montréal snow facts
A standard snowstorm can deliver a manageable 5 cm (2 inches) of snow, but five to six times a year major blizzards sometimes deliver over 25 cm (10 inches) of snow on the City. As you can imagine, this causes a lot of havoc for residents and commuters.
Because Montréal is no stranger to heavy snowfall, their removal methods are typically on-point, with snow being hauled away within five days. They don’t just push snow aside, they haul it away. However, whether or not residents are properly parked plays a part in how efficiently the City can remove snow.
The cleanup cost of major storms fall in the ballpark of $17 million. So, to cover a typical snow season, the City has an annual snow removal budget of $155 million — that’s a lot of taxpayers money in snow removal! It’s to everyone’s benefit (both economically and safety) that snow is dealt with as smoothly as possible.
How to facilitate snow removal
In order to get the roads clear as soon as possible, residents need to accommodate the City’s snow removal efforts by making sure they are properly parked (not on angles nor on corners). Not only do improperly parked vehicles slow the snow clearing process, but they also increase the risk of damage to their own vehicles.
To help out, the City sets up no-parking signs on streets several hours before clearing operations begin, so drivers are able to confirm whether their car can remain in place overnight or be moved.
The City is also launching a smartphone application that will notify residents of snow clearing operations in their neighbourhood. The app will send an alert when snow is to be cleared from the street their car is parked on. The INFO-Neige MTL mobile app is plugged into Montréal’s open data service which, for 2014-2015 winter season, updates 3 to 4 times a day. The app helps visualize clearing schedules on a City map.
Unfortunately, cars left on a street scheduled to be cleaned will be towed away. On average, the City may tow 5,000 cars during a single snow storm, or as many as 30,000 cars over one winter season.
Owners of cars that have been towed can locate where their car is by phone or by website.The City is also currently developing mobile technology to help those whose cars have been towed. Citizens will be able to locate their vehicle from 15 to 30 minutes after towing as opposed to 3 to 12 hours. The vehicle search process will also be simplified, especially for citizens who do not know their license plate number.
How can Windshieldink help the city?
Rather than notifying vehicle owners AFTER their car has been towed, Windshieldink is making it possible to prevent a tow from happening in the first place.
Though it’s great that the City is creating an app that tells car owners where they can find their towed vehicle, we think technology can be more useful. The Windshieldink app provides the opportunity for you, the car owner, to be messaged in advance of being towed rather than after “move it or lose it”.
Our messaging platform can also assist with out-of-town cars since Windshieldink allows any vehicle to be registered — perfect for visitors unfamiliar with Montréal’s snowplowing protocol.
So mes amis à Montréal, let’s push the City to use this new technology because it’s available and it’s also free. You can then register with Windshieldink and save yourself a winter worry.
Also of note, this same towing issue is a concern in many cities in Canada and across the Northern United States, so Montrealers are not the only ones that could benefit. Let’s get our civic officials involved.
We’re interested in hearing from you. Send your comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.