City of Red Deer public works manager Greg Sikora. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

More residential snow plowing urged in Red Deer

New proposed plowing protocols to be presented to city council Monday

Red Deer residents may experience more snow plowing of neighbourhood roads this winter — and earlier in the season.

Citizens have been demanding these changes, prompting Red Deer city council to direct the public works department to update and improve its snow clearing policies.

New protocols will be presented to city councillors at Monday’s meeting. The most dramatic proposal calls for two citywide snow-clearing campaigns each winter.

“Ideally, (plowing) would be done once in January, and once again in February,” said public works manager Greg Sikora.

Up to now, residential streets have been cleared only once, late in the winter, when snowpack reaches about 10 centimetres.

Sikora suggests widening this parameter so that neighbourhoods can be plowed potentially twice, when the snowpack gets anywhere between five and 10 centimetres.

With the repeated freeze-thaw weather pattern over the past few winters, a 10-centimetre snow accumulation doesn’t happen until late in the season, said Sikora. At that point, residential roads are already rutted and spring melting is just about to happen.

By lowering the trigger for plowing, city crews will be able to get in sooner and keep roads in better condition throughout the winter, he said.

Other proposed changes are to the way snow is removed from grey routes (residential streets) and green routes (bus routes through neighbourhoods).

Sikora recommends plows go right down to the pavement on a three-metre wide strip in the middle of traffic lanes on grey route streets.

Currently, a five-centimetres skim of snowpack is left on these roads.

“If we go in sooner, we can get the centre plowed to the pavement,” said Sikora.

He believes some cost-savings can be achieved by not removing ice that forms under parked cars and near the gutters of green routes.

Instead of spending time chipping this ice out, when it can form again in a few days, he believes city road workers should focus on keeping the two centre lanes clear for buses and other traffic.

He figures these changes, which must still be considered by city council, can be made without increasing the city’s snow clearing budget. It was about $5.3 million in 2019 and is expected to be similar in 2020.

“The department is always looking at different ways for service delivery,” said Sikora, who hopes this latest proposal will better satisfy citizens.

His department is considering various public engagement methods to get more input and feedback throughout the year.

Sikora is also looking at how to get more Red Deerians to sign up for the city’s automatic message system to keep them aware of the snow clearing schedule and reduce the number of tickets issued for cars left in the streets during plowing.

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Better methods of plowing residential streets will be explored by City of Red Deer Public Works staff. (Advocate file photo).

City of Red Deer public works roads maintenance trucks are being loaded with “pickled” sand (mixed with a small amount of salt) to sprinkle on slippery streets.

Public works roads maintenance trucks and equipment in Red Deer’s civic work yard.

City of Red Deer public works roads maintenance trucks are being loaded in the civic yards.

A Red Deer city public works employee in the civic yards prepares to load a sand mixture into trucks to help improve road safety. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Sand, mixed with a small amount of salt, is loaded into City of Red Deer public works trucks. It will be sprinkled on roads to reduce icy conditions. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

The City of Red Deer’s Public Works manager Greg Sikora talks to an equipment operator in the civic works yards.

An equipment operator for the City of Red Deer’s public works department prepares to load some sand into trucks at the civic yards.

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