What to do when fallen branches from a municipal tree threaten to tear the electrical wire connecting your house to the Hydro-Quebec network?

Not easy to get an answer to this question. This was noted by Francine Tremblay-Quesnel, a resident of the Rosemont district. The ash tree in front of his house is badly damaged since last week’s freezing rain storm and one of its branches is snagged in the electrical wire, threatening to break it at any moment, which could cause blackouts, in pose a risk of electric shock and fire.

Ms. Tremblay-Quesnel has been trying for several days to find a solution to this problem, without success.

“I contacted the City, Hydro-Quebec and the fire department to resolve the situation, to no avail. They all pass the buck,” laments the citizen.

She first called 311, since the tree is on the edge of the street, on a portion of land belonging to the City, but the attendant told her that it was not the responsibility of the municipal authorities.

The Hydro-Québec website indicates how to warn the Crown corporation of a potential danger concerning vegetation near the wires.

If a tree or a large branch has fallen on the wires connecting the network to a residence and it is without power, call Hydro-Québec. If the mast receiving the electric wires on the house is damaged, it is the responsibility of the owner to have it repaired.

“If your residence has electricity and the mast is not damaged, but a tree or branches may damage your connection, you must correct the situation,” says Hydro-Quebec on its website.

“The wire belongs to Hydro-Quebec, but clearing the wire is the responsibility of the customer,” said Cendrix Bouchard, spokesperson for the Crown corporation. “Then we refer people to arborists. If the wire is damaged, we will replace it, but we do not take care of the tree. »

In any case, the important thing is not to approach within three meters of the branch that touches an electric wire, adds Mr. Bouchard.

Except that Ms. Tremblay-Quesnel believes that it is not her responsibility to maintain a tree that does not belong to her. “Besides, it’s a sick ash tree that should have been cut a long time ago,” she remarks.

Verification made, it is the City that is responsible for removing the branches of its trees that could damage the wires.

“If it is a tree belonging to the City of Montreal and an electrical input wire from a private residence (a wire insulated by a sheath), it is the responsibility of the City, in in this case, teams from the borough of Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, to remove this branch. The citizen must contact 311 to make a request so that her request can be taken care of as soon as possible, ”says a spokesperson for the City, Kim Nantais.

Francine Tremblay-Quesnel was therefore misinformed by the 311 attendant.

Picking up fallen branches following the freezing rain storm will keep municipal employees busy for some time to come, which will slow down the big spring cleaning in the streets and public spaces of the metropolis.

The Mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, asks the population to be patient with the garbage collection that usually follows the melting of the snow, since blue collar workers have their hands full.

“All the City teams are mobilized to clean up, and it will take time to pick up all the branches,” she said Wednesday morning during the executive committee meeting. “The spring cleaning had already started, but the big cleaning of the streets and sidewalks will be a little delayed because we have to prioritize it. I ask people to be aware of this reality, but of course the cleaning will be done. »

By late Wednesday afternoon, there were still about 300 Hydro-Quebec customers without power.