City goes social

Any communication is good communication, says the man in charge of managing the snow on Red Deer streets.

Any communication is good communication, says the man in charge of managing the snow on Red Deer streets.

On Tuesday, the city Public Works Department launched Red Deer’s first venture into using social media to solicit opinions from its residents.

A blog on residential street cleaning asks people for their opinions on the program, the results it has achieved and where it could do better.

“We’re about a day into it. The last time I checked, there were about 30 comments that came in,” public works manager Greg Sikora said on Wednesday.

“(The comments) were diverse and that’s good, because that’s what we’re trying to find out . . . is what is the feedback from the community,” said Sikora.

Those who prefer putting pen to paper or who would rather talk face to face are invited to visit a booth the city will set up in the Bower Place Shopping Centre during shopping hours on Saturday, March 12.

The city also uses an online questionnaire, Facebook and Twitter feeds to solicit comments from citizens.

Comments collected from the question about snow removal will be consolidated into a question-and-answer format that people can view on the city’s web page and will also be used to help update its policies, said Sikora.

The online forum, running through the month of March, is just the beginning, he says.

Public Works plans to continue using the blog, Facebook and other social media to open new lines of communication with citizens, he said.

“A few months ago, we asked Red Deerians how they wanted to be consulted. The response was overwhelming for an online tool.”

Residential snow removal has been temporarily suspended while crews work on roads that hold a higher priority. It takes 25 days to clear all the city’s streets, said Sikora.

Comments on the blog included dismay with the windrows that have been left on the even sides of residential streets and some questions about why some streets were plowed up when the ruts and ice really were not that bad.

The city’s policy is to clear the street and leave the snow in windrows, said Sikora. Picking up the snow and moving it to a storage site would add to the cost of residential street clearing and the city does not have adequate space to properly store that amount of snow, allowing for proper drainage as it melts, he said.

Leaving snow and ice on some residential streets is also not an option, said Sikora.

A sudden bout of warm weather could turn that buildup into slush, which would make streets difficult if not impassable for personal and emergency vehicles, he said.

Visit www.thecityofreddeer.blogspot.com to view and take part in the public works blog.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

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