File photo

Snow clearing changes would cost money, survey finds

Council being asked to give direction

Council is digging in deep in its investigation of ways to boost clearing of snow and ice from roads and sidewalks.

And that follows a discussion prompted by a five-page analysis and series of options for council prepared by operations manager Chris Lawrence.

Council members have asked Lawrence for more information leading from their discussion.

The District of Houston may come under criticism each winter as its crews clear snow frrom streets and sidewalks but a survey of neighbouring municipalities within the Lawrence analysis states it provides services no one else does.

And any increase or adjustment of its current policy could very well trigger tax increases tied to hiring and equipment operations.

“Overall, the District remains an outlier with respect to accumulation trigger, removal of driveway windrows, providing a driveway clearing service and staffing levels compared to road network size,” Lawrence wrote.

Clearing operations for the District’s Priority 1 list of roads begins when there’s two inches of snow on the ground and four inches for Priority 2 roads compared to three inches in Vanderhoof, Smithers and New Hazelton and four inches in Hazelton while Burns Lake has no set policy as to when its crews begin work.

The other services referred to by Lawrence — driveway windrows and driveway clearing for people with physical limitiations — come after the District crews clear roads and sidewalks and municipal parking lots and are not offered at all in Burns Lake, New Hazelton, Hazelton, Smithers and Vanderhoof although windrow clearing may take place time permitting in Burns Lake, New Hazelton and Hazelton.

As far as budget allocations for snowclearing, Vanderhoof tops the list at $405,000 with Houston second at $309,700, Smithers third at $200.870 and Burns Lake $90,000 of those municipalities providing figures.

Lawrence acknowledged that while there are similarities there are also differences in attempting to illustrate how each government does its snow clearing.

“While road networks are compared, the number of roadway accesses and intersections are not identified, which may impact snow clearing methods and costs,” he said.

And when it comes to options council may consider, Lawrence noted that the District is challenged in trying to meet the goals of its current policy.

“The streamlined team nears capacity during heavy snowfall events. Attempts to clear Priority 1 and 2 areas have not met the timelines stated in the policy. This creates a backlog of Priority 3 areas and tasks, increasing the number of requests for service,” he wrote.

Meeting the current policy would call for hiring two to four more people with Lawrence pointing out how that would be accomplished would depend upon how a service level is determined.

“If the desired solution is to provide surge-capacity only as opposed to base line capacity, casual or part time staff coud be utilized to achieve a more amenable network-to-staff ratio as opposed to seasonal or full-time staff,” he wrote.

One additional permanent full-time employee would add $89,800 to the District’s payroll, representing a tax increase of 2.09 per cent.

As it is, council added a permanent half time position in this budget year to provide for a quicker snowclearing response, resulting in a slight increase in property taxes to finance the hiring.

Priority 1 roads, ones where clearing starts after two inches of snow are main routes west of Buck Creek such as Caledonia to the Houston Christian School and east of Buck Creek with routes such as Hwy16 to 14 St to Butler Ave. and 9th and 10th Streets.

Priority 2 road are all those not in Priority 1 with clearing to start after four inches of snow. The priority 2 list includes all sidewalks and key parking lots such as at Cottonwood Manor, the municpal office/firehall, public works yard and 9th St. Parking at Hwy16. Fire hydrants are included as Priority 2.

Priority 3 snow removal begins after nine inches of snow and takes place in driveways with windrows, residences with snowboards, sidewalks not cleared previously, at the seniors’ activity centre and other property where health and safety are a factor. Removing compacted snow and ice and widening shoulders are also a Priority 3 item.

Just Posted

Workers had a busy time today repairing a broken main water line. (District of Houston photo)
Water service being restored

Main line on 13th had broken

Flags at the District of Houston administrative building were lowered last week following the news that the remains of as many as 215 children were found buried on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The flags were raised back up yesterday. (Houston Today photo)
Flags lowered in memory

Flags at the District of Houston administrative building were lowered last week… Continue reading

Bruce Tang- Unsplash photo
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

“Older adults in our communities continue to find themselves in vulnerable situations… Continue reading

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Condolences pour in for Kathy Richardson, Naramata’s 3rd homicide victim in recent weeks

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More than 75% of B.C. adults have 1st dose of COVID vaccine

The federal government has confirmed a boost in the Moderna vaccine will be coming later this month

Most Read