01/08/2014 11:44 EST | Updated 03/10/2014 05:59 EDT

Verdun snow dump illegal but necessary, says mayor

Snow that was deliberately dumped by removal crews on the banks of the St. Lawrence in Verdun last month was actually illegal, admits borough mayor Jean-François Parenteau.

Now the borough may face a fine from the provincial environment ministry.

“It was either this or to stop snow removal,” Parenteau said.

He said a problem at the authorized snow dump site meant there was no place to put all the snow that fell during two major snowstorms that hit Montreal in December.

Parenteau said the borough’s administrators decided to use the old dump site near the waterfront even though they knew it was illegal.

However, the intention was not to dump snow directly into the river.

“The river was not a dump site. It’s just that, unfortunately, while a truck was backing up to dump snow, snow slid down the embankment,” he said.

Snow removal crews are now moving the snow in question to the authorized dump site. Parenteau said the recent cold weather meant that the snow, which had been contaminated with abrasives, salt, gravel, calcium and likely litter, did not melt into the river.

The borough mayor said the cost of a possible fine was worth the service they provided to residents of Verdun.

“We knew there would be penalties, but it’s a choice we made,” Parenteau said.

The borough has yet to receive the fine.