Déneigement à North Hatley / North Hatley’s Snow Removal

(English version follows)

Il serait peut-être temps de revoir la façon dont la municipalité aborde le déneigement.

Lorsque nous sommes déménagé à North Hatley en 2019 nous rêvions, entre autres, de nous éloigner des hivers de Montréal. Ces hivers où tout est brun, ces hivers où la neige est l’ennemi public numéro un, ces hivers où vos bottes en prennent un coup, ces hivers a pas mettre son chien dehors à moins de lui acheter des bottes de caoutchouc.

On nous’avait dit que North Hatley était féerique en hiver….   Déception…. En hiver, North Hatley s’attaque à la neige d’une façon qui pourrait faire rougir de honte Montréal, la ville qui pourtant détient le record Guinness du déneigement. En hiver les rues du Village de North Hatley sont brunes. Il en est de même pour les trottoirs, les accotements, et tout ce qui est aux abords des rues. On déglace même le stationnement. Résultat, rien de très féerique ou plaisant.

Je parle ici de l’aspect esthétique, mais il y a bien plus :

  • Le coût à court terme : Les produits de déglaçage coûtent cher et la municipalité a de plus en plus de difficulté à boucler son budget annuel.
  • Le coût sur les infrastructures. Les produits de déglaçage s’attaquent aux infrastructures (apparentes et enfouies) et en réduisent la durée de vie utile. Les replacer prématurément coûte très cher. Ajoutons à cela les coûts augmentés de maintenance.
  • Le coût environnemental. Le village est construit en bordure d’un lac et d’une rivière. Les eaux de ruissellement se retrouvent donc dans le lac et la rivière. Le sel et les boues ont des effets néfastes sur la flore et la faune. Ajoutons aussi que c’est notre source d’eau potable. 
  • Les coûts de nettoyage. Tout ce qui est étendu en hiver doit être ramassé au printemps. 
  • La fausse impression de sécurité. La surutilisation de produits de déglaçage donne aux automobilistes une fausse impression de sécurité. Résultats, ils conduisent plus vite et prennent plus de risques.
  • Le tourisme : La réalité, North Hatley n’a rien de très attrayant en hiver avec ses rues brunes et ruisselantes de produits de déglaçage.

Je ne suis pas un expert en déneigement, cependant, en parcourant la toile, il est intéressant de constater que des municipalités riveraines du Québec ont décidé de s’attaquer au problème en mettant en place des « écoroutes ». C’est bon pour le portefeuille, bon pour l’environnement, bon pour les animaux, bon pour le tourisme. On a tout à gagner et rien à perdre sinon de laisser derrière nous de vielles façons de penser et de faire. Si d’autres municipalités du Québec le font, pourquoi pas North Hatley.

Il faut simplement oser la différence.

– Michel Desrosiers

__________________________

It may be time to rethink how the municipality approaches snow removal.

When we moved to North Hatley in 2019, we dreamed, among other things, of getting away from the Montreal’s winters. Those winters where everything is brown, those winters where the snow is the number one public enemy, those winters where your boots take a hit, those winters you don’t even put your dog outside unless you buy him rubber boots.

I was told that North Hatley was magical in winter…. Disappointment…. in the winter North Hatley tackles the snow in a way that could make Montreal – the city that holds the Guinness record for snow removal – blush with shame. In winter the streets of the Village of North Hatley are brown and it is the same for the sidewalks, the shoulders, and everything else that is on the edge of a street. Even the municipal parking lot is de-iced with “pride”. The impact, there is nothing magical about North Hatley in the winter.

I spoke about the aesthetic aspects, but there is much more:

• The short-term financial cost. De-icing products are not free, but it is a controllable cost for a municipality that is struggling to find ways to close its annual budget. 

• The impact on the infrastructure. De-icing products attack infrastructure (exposed and buried) and reduce their lifespan. Replacing them prematurely represents a huge expense. Add to this the annual maintenance costs.

• The environmental cost. The village is built on the edge of a lake and a river. The runoff therefore ends up in the lake and the river. Salt and sludge have harmful effects on flora and fauna. Let’s also add that it is our source of drinking water.

• Cleaning costs. Anything the municipality spreads in winter must be cleaned up in the spring.

• The false sense of security. The overuse of de-icing products gives motorists a false sense of safety. As a result, they drive faster and take more risks.

• Tourism: Reality, North Hatley is everything but attractive to tourists in winter with its brown and dripping streets.

I’m no road expert but reading on the Web about what other municipalities are doing in Quebec, there are ways to approach snow removal and de-icing in a more modern way, it’s called “ecoroutes”. It’s good for the wallet, good for the environment, good for animals, good for tourism. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose if not leaving behind old ways of thinking and doing. If other municipalities in Quebec are doing it, why not North Hatley.

Let’s dare to be different.

– Michel Desrosiers

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Jean Marcoullier
Jean Marcoullier
3 months ago

Tout à fait.
– Jean Marcoullier

Faith LeBaron
Faith LeBaron
3 months ago

Michel Desrosiers’ letter outlines important points about winter snow and ice management in North Hatley. All the accumulation of de-icing material, sand and mounds of plowed ice makes the town ugly and dirty and harmful to the natural setting, so that by April everything needs to be shovelled and swept and washed, a huge job that does not always get done. I agree that modifications to managing winter ice and snow should be seriously considered in North Hatley. 
– Faith LeBaron

Fanhca Admin
Fanhca Admin
3 months ago

On peut également demander que cette demande s’applique aux routes entretenues par la province à North Hatley, route 108 – Chemin Magog et chemin Capelton, en citant l’exemple de la route 247 à partir de Georgeville, Québec. Elle est considérée comme une zone écologique et l’utilisation du sel est considérablement réduite.

Veuillez écrire à notre député, Gilles Bélanger (Gilles.Belanger.ORFO@assnat.qc.ca), à Marie Chantal Chassé, ministre de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MarieChantal.Chasse.CHAT@assnat.qc.ca) , à François Bonnardel, le ministre des Transports (Francois.Bonnardel.GRAN@assnat.qc.ca) et à Caroline Proulx, ministre du Tourisme (Caroline.Proulx.BERH@assnat.qc.ca)
– l’équipe fanhca
____________

We can also ask that this request applies to the provincially-maintained roads in North Hatley, Route 108 – Chemin Magog and Chemin Capelton, citing the example of Route 247 out of Georgeville, Quebec. It is considered an ecological zone and salt use is greatly reduced. 

Please write to our MNA, Gilles Bélanger (Gilles.Belanger.ORFO@assnat.qc.ca), to Marie Chantal Chassé, the Minister of Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change (MarieChantal.Chasse.CHAT@assnat.qc.ca), to François Bonnardel, the Minister of Transport (Francois.Bonnardel.GRAN@assnat.qc.ca) and to Caroline Proulx, Minister of Tourism (Caroline.Proulx.BERH@assnat.qc.ca)
– Team fanhca

D. MacMillan
D. MacMillan
3 months ago

Excellent suggestion especially due to the proximity to the lake and river. I sincerely hope that those on the town council will sit up and pay attention.

Last edited 3 months ago by D. MacMillan
michael grayson
michael grayson
3 months ago

I entirely agree with M. Desrosier’s post. Unfortunately this is an issue which Council has never shown willingness to address.

Once upon a time (around 2008) North Hatley created an Environment Committee of which I was a member. This committee no longer exists.
We pushed for many improvements in the Village’s environmental behaviour: excessive salt-spreading on our roads was a prime target.

There was a brief attempt to use “green salt”, which can reduce salting requirements by 30%. But the Village claimed that this option was too expensive, while also defending major salt use due to the hilly nature of parts of our road network.

This issue should certainly be re-evaluated, possibly by outside experts. Deicing agents and methods which are less damaging and costly to the environment have become more widely available and advocated. Additional costs of greener deicing products (if this is the case) are very likely to be more than offset by reduced damage to infrastructure and to the environment.

The example of Route 247 along the side of Fitch Bay is very similar to Route 108 in North Hatley. Many other examples of reduced salt use on highways in ecologically sensitive areas can be cited. While North Hatley does have hills, it also has flat lakeside streets. We need to adjust the use of deicing agents to the real needs as dictated by terrain, ecological impacts, accurate weather forecasting and so on.

Finally, the kinds and amount of equipment needed to maintain our small road network need also to be seriously evaluated.