Council approves boost to snow, ice clearing

Budget to be upped by $56,000

snow removal in Houston

Houston residents can look forward to boosted snow and ice clearing now that council has approved of a new hiring.

At a cost of $56,000, a permanent, part-time garbage collection operator will be hired, leading to an re-alignment of the District’s resources.

“This will free up one of our existing full time operators from Tuesday to Thursday to focus on snow removal and other core service delivery activities throughout the year,” explained District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck of council’s decision reached at its Dec. 15 meeting.

The hiring follows District staffers presenting council with a number of options arising from a proposal made by Councillor Tom Stringfellow several weeks ago.

Stringfellow had suggested hiring a seasonal equipment operator to “operate a snowblower to move volumes of snow from areas that are unreachable by larger equipment, such as curbs, parking areas, bus stops, accessible parking stalls, the Houston and Mountainview cemetery, sidewalks and the Buck Creek walking bridge.”

Staffers indicated the district has four fulltime equipment operators handling the District’s maintenance and core delivery of services.

During garbage collection days of Tuesday to Thursday, one of those four carries out that function, leaving the three to handle the other duties.

“The operators have 80 kilometres of road network and nine kilometres of sidewalk to maintain,” noted District operations manager Chris Lawrence in a detailed memo to council.

“With a sprawling community with many rural areas, this creates some challenges for the team to meet service levels,” he added of a snow and ice removal policy set in place in 2018.

Hiring a part time person to collect garbage then frees up that fourth full time person for snow removal and other duties.

Lawrence recommended this option which, at $56,000, represents the equivalent of a 1.33 per cent tax increase.

“This will enable the department to become more flexible and adaptable for small projects, address absences for vacation and illness, and increased response to requests year-round,” he wrote.

Lawrence did suggest a pool of casual equipment operators could be hired to work as needed, but added there is no guarantee they’d be available when required. That option would have cost $20,900.

A third option would have been to hire a permanent part time operator and establish a casual pool, costing $77,500.

As it is, the 2018 snow and ice clearing policy is under review with a full report slated for release next spring.

That policy sets out a list of Priority 1, Priority 2 and Priority 3 roads with a first concentration within the downtown core. Under the first priority, clearing is to start after an accumulation of two inches of snow with roads in the second priority to be cleared after an accumulation of four inches of snow. For Priority 3 areas, clearing is to start after an accumulation of nine inches of snow.

Local resident Joanne Woodbeck, who is blind and who relies on a guide dog to navigate District sidewalks, said she was thrilled with the news of the hiring decision made by council.

“I would really like to express my gratitude to council and especially to [Councillor] Tom Stringfellow for advocating for this,” she said last week.

Woodbeck found herself completely lost and terrified following the mid-November heavy snowfall when accumulated snow on the sidewalks forced her and Jude off course.

It prompted her to write a letter to District operations letter asking that consideration be given to increasing the snow and ice clearing budget so that sidewalks could be cleared faster. The letter was included in the package of snow clearing budget information presented to council.

Woodbeck said she fielded phone calls, particularly from seniors, supporting her request to the District.

“What they told me is that you’re helping us too,” she said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

District of houston
Council dips into surplus for highway project

Costs have risen to place utility lines underground

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

Accessibility improvements and more classrooms at the Houston Christian School should be completed by the new school year. (Houston Today photo)
Accessibility improvements coming to Houston Christian School

Construction package includes two classrooms

The soft opening of the nature centre at the Buck Creek CANFOR hatchery took place mid-April. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Houston hatchery and nature centre’s upcoming events

The conservation group to host summer students this year

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Most Read