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Montréal
Samedi, 20 avril 2024

Season 2 of BGC Dawson’s Snow Brigade

By Chad Polito
Special collaboration

Montreal saw its first snowfall of the year on January 2, 2022, making everything bright and white. While 5 cm of snow might not seem like a whole lot of snow, for seniors and those with reduced mobility, it brings on an entire set of challenges.

Verdun’s snow clearing operations include streets and sidewalks leaving every citizen responsible for clearing the snow on their own walkways and entryways. For some residents, getting from the front door of their home to the sidewalk can be quite challenging during the winter months. With physical and health limitations preventing many members of our community from shoveling their own snow, they are forced to look elsewhere for help.

The costs of private snow removal range any from $250 – $400 per season depending on the size of the walkway and areas to be shoveled. This added expense is not feasible for seniors living on a fixed income. To help bridge the gap, the borough of Verdun collaborated with BGC Dawson last year to launch the pilot project “Brigade Neige”. This snow removal project helped over 40 of Verdun’s seniors and those with reduced mobility while employing 30 youth.

Ann Ovenstone Duhamel, an 86-year-old Verdun resident, benefited from the service last year. She broke her hip five years ago and has needed a walker ever since. “What a wonderful project,” recounted Duhamel. “It really was a life-saver for me and allowed me the freedom to go out when I needed to. The two girls that shoveled my snow did an incredible job.”

After a successful season last year, Verdun’s city council voted to continue the project once again this year. The borough of Verdun selected participants for this year’s project based on need with BGC Dawson responsible for hiring the youth. Darley Polony, BGC Dawson’s youth programs coordinator sees this as a wonderful intergenerational activity that also provides a meaningful first job experience. “We perfected the program over the past year and are excited to be able to offer it once again. This year we have 20 youth employed and will continue to serve over 40 citizens” says Polony as she sent out the first snow brigade crew of 2022.  

Each youth participating in the program receives a complete orientation and job training. Wearing safety vests and staying in teams of two are important safety requirements. Youth enrolled in the project can expect to shovel 3-4 homes each snowfall and will earn $10 for each household shoveled. Leadership development opportunities will be provided throughout the project.

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