Montreal boosts pothole fixing budget but still can't fill them all

·3 min read
Montreal boosts pothole fixing budget but still can't fill them all

Retired Montreal mechanic Gilles Junior Langois knows first-hand what kind of damage potholes can wreak on vehicles.

He estimates about 10 per cent of tire-changing season is spent fixing cars with pothole damage.

"Wheel bearings were one of the main issues caused by potholes when you hit a hole hard, especially if you're turning into it," he said.

"It damages the bearing obviously, a lot of tires and a lot of rims."

With temperatures bouncing above and below freezing all winter, Montreal's asphalt has been taking a beating and so have the cars that are driven on the holey roads.

Montreal's city council is increasing the pothole-filling budget this year by about 15 per cent — roughly $425,000 — but officials say only about 85 per cent of the problem areas will be fixed.

Opposition blames budget cuts

And the city's Official Opposition says budget cuts are to blame.

"The major increase of potholes is the result of Projet Montréal's nearly $200-million cuts in major road maintenance programs," said Alan DeSousa, a city councillor with Ensemble Montréal and mayor of the Saint-Laurent borough.

While garages are full of cars needing repair, the Plante administration had to put a stop to its pothole patching operations in mid-March because of budget cuts, he said.

DeSousa described cutting the city's road maintenance budget as "just another bad decision of the Plante administration."

WATCH | Montrealers dodge potholes:

However, a spokesperson for Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said the extra investment shows the administration is taking the situation seriously.

Investing an additional $425,000 in 2022 "demonstrates our concern and the importance we place on a roadway in good condition. Spring is the time to act and that is what we are doing," said Catherine Cadotte in an email.

"Everyone benefits: motorists and truck drivers, of course, but also pedestrians, parents with strollers and cyclists," said Cadotte.

Approximately $5 billion has been earmarked for road maintenance in the city's 10-year capital expenditure program, which lasts until 2031, according to city spokesperson Guillaume Rivest.

In addition to manual repairs, Montreal has a machine that fills about 300 potholes per day from December to May on arterial roads in all boroughs, he said.

As of March 24, 68,000 potholes have been sealed on arterial roads since the start of the year, Rivest said, and each borough has employees to fill potholes as well.

Claiming pothole damage with city

Regardless of the funding boost, Rachel Wilson said she will believe it when she sees it.

It seems like every year, Montreal is doing the same thing and the asphalt is never in good shape, Wilson said.

When on a bike, she said, it's particularly sketchy on narrow streets where she is forced to swerve and hope there's no cars coming at the same time.

The potholes make her not want to drive a car in the city, she said.

"It's hard on your vehicle, so you know, it's extra money out of your pocket," she said.

Montreal has a webpage for filing a claim about pothole damage.

"An investigation will determine whether the city is responsible and if you are owed compensation," the site says.

Montreal also has a page online for reporting potholes, and encourages residents to call 311 if the situation is dangerous.

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