Joanne Woodbeck with Jude, her seeing-eye companion. (Contributed photo)

Joanne Woodbeck with Jude, her seeing-eye companion. (Contributed photo)

Council urged to boost snow clearing efforts

Sidewalks also need to be kept clear

Resident Joanne Woodbeck is urging council to refine and improve its snowclearing procedures.

Appearing before council at its Oct. 5 meeting, Woodbeck raised three points she said afterward that were vital for council to consider.

Her first point urged council to add 11th Street as a priority to clearing along with 9th and 10th Streets, saying it has more through traffic to and from locations such as the senior citizens housing complex, the firehall and RCMP detachment.

She also wants the practice stopped of clearing snow off roadways onto sidewalks, a practice that hampers walking, and to clear sidewalks more frequently of the snow that falls on them.

And she wants council to find an alternative to windrows, banks of compressed snow created when equipment clears snow from roads only to have it plug up the end of driveways.

Woodbeck first raised the matter of snowclearing last winter when with her seeing eye dog she got lost during an attempt to walk from one location to another because sidewalks had not been cleared, causing her to vary from an established route.

“All of us who walk have a right to do so safely,” Woodbeck said following her presentation last week.

She did acknowledge that the District beefed up its public works crew in the past year by hiring a part time garbage collector to free up an equipment operator to plow snow during garbage collection days. And it created a working foreman position in June by adding to what was a summer-only equipment operator position.

And she said she fully appreciates the reality of budgets and cost pressures, but notes that snowfalls can happen for fully half of any calendar year, more than enough time for the District to have policies and procedures in place to deal with sidewalk clearing and accumulated amounts.

“They’re the ones that make the rules,” said Woodbeck.

Having policies and procedures would also eliminate the need for people to make service calls to the District requesting an employee or employees clear snow from sidewalks or from driveways, she added.

Woodbeck was thanked for her presentation by mayor Shane Brienen and there were no comments made or questions asked.

It is council’s practice not to respond to delegations or questions immediately in case there are matters raised which require some research before providing a response.

Council did go over an extensive snow-clearing and associated cost analysis prepared in early summer by Chris Lawrence, who recently left his post as the District’s operation manager.

He concluded that moving sidewalk clearing from a Priority 2 to a Priority 1 status would “add further strain for the operations team to meet targets set through policy.”

Council did approve of some enhancements to snow clearing procedures at the same time as it gave the green light to creating the working foreman position.

Below are a few of those changes:

– In Priority One areas, snow clearing will now begin after 75 mm (three inches) of snow has fallen. The current accumulation is 50 mm (two inches) of snow.

West of Buck Creek, Priority One roads are from the District shop to West 5th to Tweedie to Mountainview Drive to Walker and turning around at the school, West 14th, Caledonia Ave. to the Houston Christian School and Hagman Crescent to Pearson to Olsson to Goold to Kanata to Hamblin Frontage.

East of Buck Creek, Priority One roads are Copeland from Hwy16 to 14th St. to Butler, Butler from Hwy16 to 14th St., Poulton from 9th St to 14th St., 11th and 12th and 13th Streets, 9th and 10th Streets with a loader only, Butler from Hwy16 to Riverbank Drive, Riverbank Drive from Butler to Omineca Way/Poplar St. and Equity Mine Road and Avalon Ave. to East Valley Road.

At that time council also called for an increased emphasis on clearing sidewalks of snow and ice and asked staffers to come up a schedule of which ones should have a higher priority.