01/05/2015 09:07 EST | Updated 03/07/2015 05:59 EST

Montreal launches sidewalk blitz following ice storm

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre says the city will ramp up efforts to make the sidewalks more manageable following the weekend storm — even if it means slowing down snow-removal operations.

Coderre announced the plan on Twitter late Monday, saying crews will make laying down gravel a priority overnight.

Philippe Sabourin, a spokesman for the city, said the combination of snow, rain and rapid drop in temperature within a 24-hour period made for an icy mix on the sidewalks that has been difficult to handle. 

Sabourin said streets aren't as in poor shape, comparatively, because steady traffic doesn't allow ice to form.  

He said the sidewalks are a priority.  

“It’s now too cold for salt to be effective," he said.

"The conditions on the sidewalks aren't satisfactory." 

The entire snow removal operation will cost an estimated $20 million, according to the city.

Spike in ER visits

The treacherous conditions for pedestrians led to an increase in weather-related injuries.

Ian Popple, a spokesman for the McGill University Health Centre, said the Royal Victoria and Montreal General hospitals had four or five times as many people in the emergency room with injuries from falls — mostly broken wrists and ankles.

“On an average day, they get about four or five, and today they had 20,” he said.

Tarek Razek, the head of trauma at the MUHC, said most of the weather-related injuries he sees are preventable.

He suggested people exercise caution when doing everyday tasks such as walking, driving or shovelling.

"We’re overwhelmed with fractures," he said.

Benoît Garneau, a spokesman for Urgences-Santé​, said the ambulance service has been getting more calls than usual following the storm, including heart attacks from people shovelling and slips and falls on the ice.