Last week it was all about snow (and Christmas) but mostly about snow.
Or, more specific, snow removal … or lack thereof.
Coun. Brian Skakun, even with the city’s new councillor code of conduct that prevents city councillors from talking to anyone at city staff without a permission slip, got some answers about the city’s snow removal efforts and posted them on his Facebook page.
The main question about snow removal is “how long does it take to clear the city’s streets?”
Thanks to Skakun, here’s the answer: It takes five days to clear a 15-centimetre snowfall; it will take the city about eight-and-a-half days to clear 40 centimetres once it stops snowing.
When Mother Nature doesn’t schedule snowfalls five days apart, and I don’t know why she doesn’t, the city crews continually fall behind.
The 40-centimetre dump two weeks ago resulted in the city focusing on the main priority routes (although it seemed like a lot of those routes didn’t see a plow for a couple of days either).
City crews were sent into the downtown area on for what was supposed to be two consecutive nights, but ended up being three as downtown is a priority.
That resulted in it being nine days from when it started snowing to clear all the streets but only a week from the time the snow stopped.
And, of course, there was some rain thrown into the mix, which compacted the snow and made it more difficult for snow-removal crews … not to mention motorists.
Last week I questioned whether the city had enough equipment to clean the snow quickly and efficiently. Seems they don’t.
“We are finding it harder to get graders – I believe from a combination of more lucrative contracts elsewhere and a general lack of skilled operators,” according to city staff comments Skakun posted on Facebook. “With the exception of the graders you were able to get, we have cleared this snowfall with our own graders.”
Oops, maybe the CUPE folks are onto something when they say the city needs to pay good wages or risk losing skilled workers.
Back to snow removal. The city is changing its snow-removal strategies to hopefully stay ahead of Mother Nature.
Depending on snowfall, there will be increased use of trucks to plow residential streets in the bowl area. These will be one pass in and one pass out per street to minimize windrows. Residents will then likely complain about driveways being plowed in, but the city is ready for that. At least with a single pass, access will be improved from what residents had this last storm. Graders will continue to do residential streets as always.
If the loaders are effective, they may use loaders in other light industrial areas as well.
We’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed and, as mentioned last week, it’s about getting the right amount of equipment in place.
So if you want to lobby your city councillor about snow removal, remember that it’s a capital increase we need.