People & Culture

Photos: Montreal's battle against snow

Montreal wages a $166-million battle against snow every single year to keep its streets and sidewalks clear

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Welcome to the garbage hole. The sulphuric, rotten-egg stench coming off the heaps of brown sludge at Montreal’s Francon snow depot is putrid even on a cold, grey March day. Here in this former quarry, the melt of early spring has revealed crumpled laundry detergent bottles, the petrified carcass of a badminton birdie, used tampon applicators and other shards of hardened, forgotten plastic. It’s the stuff you think is destined for landfill or recycling when you toss it, but instead it ends up on the street, then in the path of a snow plow and then on a dump truck, then at the snow dump. The trash mingles with mountains of snow stained by a cocktail of pollutants, releasing a nauseating assault on the senses.

This is the final resting place for snow removal in Montreal. This city spends more than any other in the world on picking up snow and putting down salt on its 10,000 kilometres of roads: in 2019–2020, its snow removal budget hit $166.4 million.

Read the full story in the January/February 2021 issue of Canadian Geographic. 

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