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The place of Versailles “burns” the snow from its parking lot

The place of Versailles “burns” the snow from its parking lot

The Place Versailles shopping center believes it is one of the few in Quebec that uses a unique technology to get rid of the snow that falls on massive parking lots: It “burns” it with natural gas.


The company praises the system’s benefits, but its environmental impact is under criticism at a time when Montreal wants to tackle gas consumption.

Place Versailles established its foundry fifteen years ago. It consists of an “indoor swimming pool” heated by four gas turbines in a corner of the car park, as Patrick Peachy explained while showing the installation to Journalism, last week. Mr. Piché is responsible for the physical facilities of the mall.

PHOTO CHARLES WILLIAM PELLETIER, exclusive collaboration

The founder is a kind of “ground pool” heated by four gas turbines in a corner of the car park

When Mr. Piché’s team is “burning”—that’s the established expression—the tractor pushes the huddled piles of snow into the trough filled with water. In addition, the four turbines produce hot water. “It’s like eating snow,” describes Mr. Beachy. Real jacuzzi for icicles that do not last long. The system is directly connected to the municipal sewer. “It works well.”

On very cold days, the flow of steam from the smelters is so opaque that 911 regularly receives calls from citizens convinced they see a fire.

PHOTO CHARLES WILLIAM PELLETIER, exclusive collaboration

On very cold days, the flow of steam from the smelters is so opaque that 9-1-1 regularly receives calls from citizens convinced they see a fire.

“It allows us to eliminate snow buildup on the ground and we don’t have to haul snow elsewhere,” said Elizabeth Payne, general manager and president of Mr. Beachy. “There is never snow on the site. It is always clear. Place Versailles has approximately 4,000 parking spaces.

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energy cost

But this absence of snow comes at a cost, stresses Pierre-Olivier Pinault, a professor at HEC Montreal and former head of energy sector management.

This is clearly one of the worst uses of energy imaginable.

Pierre-Olivier Pinault is Professor at HEC Montréal and has held the Energy Sector Management Chair

“We’ll have to do the comparison with the energy cost of trucking ice,” the professor added. The simple fact that it is economically possible to build concrete infrastructures to allow individual vehicle use and to melt snow with natural gas perfectly illustrates the lack of economic incentives leading us to the energy transition. »

PHOTO CHARLES WILLIAM PELLETIER, exclusive collaboration

Place Versailles has no intention of getting rid of its founder despite several thousand dollars in natural gas bills.

On Thursday, the Plante administration welcomed the recommendations of a panel of municipal elected officials who want to ban the installation of new gas appliances in the short term in Montreal. They also want to make it illegal for any new building to be connected to the natural gas network.

“With the magnitude of the climate crisis, it is no longer the time for half-measures,” said Marie-Andre Mauger, elected environmental officer on Valerie Plante’s executive committee.

“It should be Cleaning »

Place Versailles, for its part, has no intention of parting ways with its founder despite several thousand dollars’ worth of natural gas bills.

Transporting snow to specialized locations will also have environmental impacts, the lady said.I Payne.

She pointed out that “it takes 12 wheels and 15 wheels to transport snow.”

PHOTO CHARLES WILLIAM PELLETIER, exclusive collaboration

The owner doesn’t like the idea of ​​blocking a corner of the parking lot for snow buildup.

Why not block a corner of the parking lot for snow stacking? “The owner here doesn’t like it. He’s never liked it. It should be,” explained Patrick Peche Cleaning. » Copy confirmed by MI Payne.

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The latter added that even if she wanted to, the task would not be easy. The general manager of the mall explained that the height of the Snowflake Mountains is regulated, as well as the distance that can be far from the traffic lane or property line.

“We always test the water when we’re done burning,” she explained. Anything thrown into the city system is clean. Every year, we send the results of all these analyzes back to the city. »

Place Versailles founders can make small businesses. “There are cities that have come to check how it works,” said Patrick Peche.