Four new icebreakers leading to the Ottawa sidewalks


It sounds downright scary, but could the Blue Gryb release pedestrians from the slippery sidewalks?

When Somerset defends Coun. Catherine McKenney tweeted about the city's newly acquired spinning icebreaker and state-of-the-art sidewalk drag blades during a meeting this week with the city's team dealing with pedestrian ice conditions, it has garnered dozens of comments and over 250 likes.

She was not surprised.

"If you do not walk a lot, if you're not an ordinary pedestrian, you do not really understand how difficult it is to navigate the sidewalks after a snowstorm when it's cold," McKenney said, adding that he listens daily to seniors and constituents conditioned.

Nearly three-quarters of the people who live and work in the center move on foot, she said.

"It's such a big fight for people," McKenney said. "Every time you give the residents hope to make things better, they get really excited."

The city has rented four Blue Gryb Rotating Icebreakers as a pilot project, reports Donald Dinelle, director of fleet services in the city.

"The GRYB ice breaker hooks in front of the sidewalk tractor and can be used to break ice on the sidewalks when needed," he said.

The lease is part of a larger lease for six months each year over the next three years. The cost is under stealth – considered commercially confidential.

Gryb of Victoriaville, Quebec, hails its icebreaker by using less molten ice and salt while crushing ice up to three inches thick on sidewalks three times faster than standard equipment even at very low temperatures.

Brian Scott of the public works department left with the new equipment at Blackburn Hamlet on Tuesday afternoon and explained that the 1,000-kilogram annex and its nearly 800 steel spikes pierce the ice for salt to penetrate and workers can clear the sidewalks to the pavement. The crews were able to clear about 10 cm of ice in some passages, he said, instead of simply putting sand and sand on ice for traction.

City councilors and their officials met with the city's staff this week to discuss solutions for the icy sidewalks. They have heard that freezing and thawing cycles have given way to extra cold sidewalks this year because the thick ice sheet is difficult to remove when it accumulates, unlike roads where ice is melted by the rubbing of hot tires.

In the 2020 budget, McKenney would like to see money for the city team reevaluating the sidewalk cleanliness standards and come back with recommendations.

She suggests that they include decoupling patterns on the sidewalk road sidewalk. Now the sidewalks on a busy street are cleaned first, even if the sidewalks of the quieter streets attract so many pedestrians. So sidewalks on Bank Street or Preston Street are clearly relatively fast, for example, but sidewalks on Lisgar Street, which is not a busy street for drivers, but it's a pedestrian street, it's not released as fast.

The new technology to clear the ice accumulated can be a great advantage for pedestrians, said McKenney.

"This would allow the teams to come in and start again a few times every winter," she said. "What we are seeing on our sidewalks now is that even if the team is out 24 hours a day (7 days a week) (and) they are plowing the sidewalk, once you get the ice buildup, you will not be able to to get rid of it.

"I have old people calling me every day who are afraid to leave their homes. If you have some type of mobility problem, it is impossible to walk on the sidewalk. "


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