Martin C. Barry
As a resident and taxpayer in the City of Laval, how angry are you about the efficiency of the city’s snow removal this winter? Be that as it may, if you were a retired couple living on Bennett St. in Laval’s Chomedey sector, you’d be fuming indeed during this winter of snow removal discontent.
Never as bad
“We’ve been living here for 28 years and we’ve never had a problem like this,” said Andreas Pantelis, who lives, along with his wife, Eleni, less than a block from Centre du Sablon and across the street from Sablon Park.
“We’re paying taxes and I think they should do better than this,” said Pantelis. “This year is much worse. Sometimes they come once in a blue moon and they just throw the snow on the side in the park when there’s too much snow and they can’t do anything else.”
Poor snow service
While in the past, according to Pantelis, the city’s snow removal crews cleaned away snow banks from one side of Bennett (which is a secondary street where snow removal is slower), so that residents might at least have room to park their cars, that’s not the case this winter, he insisted – and it’s taking a toll on him and his wife.
“She has problems, I have problems and it’s a mountain of snow,” he said, noting he suffers from a heart ailment, while Eleni has a problem with a joint in one of her legs. When a snow removal crew arrives – often in the early morning hours – everyone with a car parked on the street (and Pantelis owns three) has to move quickly. In addition to all this, there is often nowhere else to park.
Neglected side streets
“I see everywhere else, they clean one side of the street, then they put up no parking signs, they go the next day and they clean the other side,” Pantelis continued, while complaining that the city should carry out snow removal evenly on all streets, rather than neglecting side streets like Bennett. “I don’t think the way they do it is the right way.”
Pantelis told the Laval News that when he has called the City of Laval’s 3-1-1 hotline for public works, he was told by the operator to park in his driveway. He claimed that repeated calls to 3-1-1 failed to spur the city into action. But as he also pointed out, he’s unable to move the mountain of snow sitting on the street in front of his driveway because of his heart condition.
Waiting, nearly a week later
On Thursday last week, six days after the snowfall, residents on Bennett St. were still waiting for snow on both sides of the street to be cleared away. “When I called, they told me that by the end of the week probably,” said Pantelis, while adding that another heavy snowfall was expected.
With the new snow, he continued, the city crews would begin another cleanup, starting with the main streets, but leaving the unfinished snow cleanup on the side-streets to be continued along with the newly-fallen snow.
Rather than treat side-streets as low-priority for snow removal, Pantelis reasons the city should take into account that streets like Bennett, which are next to large green spaces like Sablon Park, should be given a higher priority when they are near schools and are more likely to be used by children and parents.
What 3-1-1 said
During the Laval News’ interview with Mr. and Mrs. Pantelis, we asked them to call the City of Laval’s 3-1-1 public works hotline so we might get some idea of the response to their complaint about poor snow removal service. What follows is a slightly shortened transcript of the exchange.
Pantelis: Good morning, my name is Pantelis and I called you a couple of days ago about the snow we have in the street. We can’t walk, we can’t park. You told me that you were going to take care of it, but nobody has showed up.
3-1-1: That’s for sure we will take care of it. But we don’t know exactly what day they will do it because the residential is the last thing we take care of. And we received a lot of snow so this also doubles the time. In two days we received many centimetres of snow. It’s a big quantity and we have a lot of streets to take care of, so you have to be a bit patient.
Pantelis: You say it’s going be the last day when it’s going to be cleaned?
3-1-1: It’s always the last we do, sir. It’s always been like this, sir.
Pantelis: No, no. It’s not always like this. I live here for 28 years.
3-1-1: Sir, I am working here for more than that, so I know this is always the way they treat all the streets. We have your request, sir, you have to be patient and we have a lot to do.
Pantelis: But this is a one-way street.
3-1-1: Yes sir, I know that street. I live in Chomedey sector, too.
Pantelis: Okay, there is a school behind my house, there are people passing by to go to Centre du Sablon, and it’s a main street to me.
3-1-1: It’s not a main street. We have a by-law from Gouvernement du Québec so that we have to do big streets before small residential streets.
Pantelis: I went yesterday everywhere in Chomedey and I see you cleaning a lot of streets.
3-1-1: Just be patient. We received a lot of snow. We are doing our best, sir.
Pantelis: Yes, I understand, but at least clean one side so that we can park.
3-1-1: We will do, sir. Just be a bit patient.
Pantelis: We had the snow fall on Friday and tomorrow is Friday. You’ve had a week already.
3-1-1: We’ve got to work all the weekend, sir, don’t worry.
Pantelis: Well I hope you will try your best, because it’s frustrating.
3-1-1: We try, sir. As I told you, we have a lot of snow to take off so just be patient.
Pantelis: I know that. But at least to me one side should be clean so we could park.
3-1-1: I can understand that, sir, but you have driveways on that street.
Pantelis: I have a driveway, yeah, but it takes only one car. I have three cars already.
3-1-1: Yes, but it’s not the city’s fault that you bought three cars.
Pantelis: No, it’s not the city’s fault, but where am I going to park?
3-1-1: Sir, I’ve just told you the request time. Be patient. We cannot do more than that. If we could stop nature from sending snow it would be what we would want for us and for you. But we can do nothing about that.