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Canadian cities eliminate parking bans by removing snow

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Some Minnesota cities are facing parking restrictions due to big snowfalls this winter. A number of Minneapolis neighborhoods, in particular, have been clogged by drivers circling blocks, hopelessly searching for an open spot amid new parking bans.

But some major Canadian cities don't have the same problem. Montreal receives, on average, more snow than most cities in Minnesota, and doesn’t use the same kind of long-lasting parking restrictions.

Could Minnesota cities learn a thing or two from our neighbor to the north?

Montreal officials say they have perfected the snow removal process, outlined on the city’s website. Like in Minnesota, the city salts and sands its streets. But snow removal in Montreal literally means removing snow.

Some 172 vehicles are used for roads and 188 for sidewalks to quickly remove snow, but the difference in Montreal is that the snow piled on roadsides is then loaded into trucks and taken to a snow elimination site. The city offers free parking in lots and garages so cars are not parked on the street during snow removal operation, MPR reports.

The snow is taken to one of 28 disposal sites where it is melted and treated according to environmental standards, the city says. On average, Montreal says it removes about 300,000 truckloads of snow every winter.

The city’s website says the decision on when to remove snow is made depending on the amount of snowfall and the upcoming forecast.

The city of Mankato does something similar to Montreal, according to the Mankato Free Press. For more than 30 years, Schroepfer, Inc., has come in overnight and hauled off snow from the city’s downtown area to a farm on the north edge of the town. The removal costs about $10,000 a night, but it helps keep the city’s sidewalks usable, the newspaper says. The company has removed snow twice this winter.

The Mankato Free Press reports another snow removal is scheduled for Wednesday.

Could this process help clear the streets in other Minnesota cities? In Minneapolis, snow has piled up along streets and sidewalks making it hard for some vehicles to get through.

“We still have 20 to 30 inches of snow cover on the ground," Mike Kennedy, of Minneapolis Public Works, told FOX 9. "When you plow that up, there's only so much snow storage on the boulevard and the streets narrow."

Parking is banned on the even side of non-snow emergency routes throughout Minneapolis to ensure public safety. These restrictions could last until April 1, unless road conditions improve.

St. Paul is also looking at parking restrictions. The city’s website says, “If snow accumulations are significant, streets will continue to narrow. This happens because boulevards are already packed high with snow and plows cannot throw new snow up on top of the pile. For this reason, driveways, alleyways, out walks and street corners will become full of snow. There is no way to prevent this.”

Minneapolis and St. Paul aren’t the only cities dealing with parking issues. The Duluth News Tribune reports people are getting towed and ticketed because emergency vehicles are unable to get down the roads. Duluth has instated an alternate-side parking schedule to help with the narrowing of the roads.

“We need to make room so emergency vehicles and school buses can reach their destination quickly and safely,” Sgt. Ryan Morris said, the Duluth News Tribune reported. “We see this problem every winter, because parking becomes an issue when we have massive amounts of snow on the street. We are putting a priority on parking while we work to clean up the streets from this recent storm.”

Montreal doesn’t have parking restrictions that last months. The city gets 82 inches of snow per year and is much larger – a population of 1.6 million – than Minneapolis or St. Paul, according to MPR. It usually takes Montreal fewer than five days for a 7-inch snowfall and about five days if it snows a foot to remove the snow from streets, MPR reports.

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