Montreal has a huge problem. This winter, the sidewalks around the city are nigh impossible to walk on. Traversing the city has become a nightmare for drivers and pedestrians alike. Lots of people have suggested that Montreal implement heated sidewalks. Winter cities such as Helsinki, Oslo, Sapporo, even Holland, Michigan (pop. 34,000) have installed heated sidewalks in their downtown areas. So why not Montreal?
TL;DR Montreal will probably never get heated sidewalks because city officials claim the technology is “too expensive”. Though other cities have successfully installed heated sidewalks, Montreal City Hall refuses to admit that we need this technology. Click to file an official petition with the city.
We have roughly 59 days of snowfall, which, on average, equals to 209.5 centimetres of accumulation. To compare, Helsinki, Finland (pop. 632,000) gets about the same amount of snowfall whereas Sapporo, Japan (pop. 1.9 million) is on the extreme end at 596 centimetres average per year. While the people of Helsinki and Sapporo can walk around in sneakers all winter (without getting weird looks), emergency rooms around Montreal are packed with the sidewalk’s victims.
This winter, I’ve been forced to perfect my penguin walk like many others. Some people, however, haven’t been so lucky and have broken bones trying to navigate the ice fields. Yet, Mayor Valerie Plante has gone on to complain about how tough we’re being on her while she gets driven around in a limo. Maybe she would be more sympathetic if she was forced to trek on foot like so many of us are?
Reflection seen downtown as icy sidewalks continue to vex #Montreal on another morning of mixed precipitations #Canada #ShareYourWeather #mtlmoments #mtlblog #streetphoto #reflections #WinterStorm #mtl #urbanphotography #MeteoQc #cityscape pic.twitter.com/XzSoVWmVVw— michael boyle (@mjmantis) February 25, 2019
While our mayor complains about her citizens, the Service de Police de la Ville de Montreal (SPVM) hands out tickets to these same citizens who must risk walking in the middle of the street to avoid broken bones.
Why can’t we get heated sidewalks in Montreal? The answer, as always with this town, is the cost. According to the Montreal Gazette, the cost estimate for the heated sidewalk project on Ste-Catherine St. was $120 million. Furthermore, city officials said the city’s unpredictable weather and the constant need to repair would “be a nightmare”.
Proposals have included ideas like installing hot-water pipes under the sidewalk, or, more efficiently, using the surrounding heat from buildings and cars, creating a geothermal effect. Montreal already tried to install an electric system to heat the sidewalks around city hall. In fact, the system to heat the sidewalk at Place Vauquelin in the Old Port quickly failed after two weeks, after spending $14.7 million. Classic Montreal.
Let’s not forget that according to CTV News, the city’s snow removal budget is now at $160 million. That number will only rise as we continue to get pummelled with storm after storm. It stands to reason that if the city is going to spend all that money on removing snow, why not install a network of heated sidewalks to avoid that incredible cost? Could it be that by not having heated sidewalks, the snow removal cartel reaps enormous profits and allows for contract rigging for certain neighbourhoods? Corruption and collusion in Montreal?! Don’t be silly, that would never happen right?!
While it's okay for the mayor to spend $600K on legal counsel to help defend her against Formula-E organizers (remember that mess?), concerned citizens should just deal with potential broken bones. While citizens take matters into their own hands, the cops make sure their monthly quotas are made by punishing us for not wanting to crack our necks on dangerous sidewalks. While the entire province is reeling from a harsh winter, the CAQ and Hydro Quebec refuse to pay back what’s owed to the people.
You know what, Montreal? Maybe it's time we do take matters into our own hands. Instead of complaining and hoping for the best, why not take the fight to city hall? If you’d like to help us file a petition with City Hall to revisit the heated sidewalk issue, click this link and download the official Montreal petition form.