When Laval-Des-Rapides councillor Pierre Anthian saw residents struggling to get around after last weekend's storm, he decided to hire homeless and formerly homeless people to clear paths city crews hadn’t yet reached.
The initiative has received positive reviews from both residents and the workers, who say they appreciate the cash.
Anthian used money from his own pay cheque to hire them at 12 dollars an hour.
He said the work helps to give the men — who call themselves "brown-collar workers" — some confidence.
Initiative could violate union deals, says Laval
However, the City of Laval is opposed to the idea, and a spokeswoman said Anthian didn't consult city council before launching the project.
"He's an official city representative, and we cannot hire people like this without an official agreement,” said Nadine Lussier.
Lussier said snow removal must be handled by blue collar workers who are trained, equipped and covered by insurance.
"If somebody falls, they might come after the city saying that for different reasons, we were not responsible to let other people do the job," she said.
According to Lussier, Anthian's initiative could violate contracts with city workers, but he said he hasn't had any complaints from the union.
"Sometimes with the bureaucracy, we have to wait months and months,” Anthian said.
“But (we're not) in August. We can't wait until August to have the authorization to clean this way."
Anthian plans to keep hiring the "brown collar workers" to clear sidewalks after every major storm.