Red Deer crews are keeping a close eye on city sidewalks after giving the walkways the recent traction control treatment.
Public Works manager Greg Sikora said crews wrapped up the recent round of sanding and salting on Monday.
Sikora said the city has been meeting its 10-day standard under normal snowfall conditions for sidewalk clearing this winter. Earlier this winter, the city pulled its sidewalk crews to address the extreme snowfall on main roads.
But in light of the recent warm weather followed by cold temperatures, the city is holding off on clearing the snow and instead providing traction control to maintain the sidewalks.
“If we go out and plow the sand and salt off of it, we may expose the ice,” said Sikora. “It doesn’t allow the salt the opportunity to thermally break down the ice. We need to break down the ice so we can use our equipment to chip it off and peel the ice off the sidewalk.”
Sikora said there may be a period where the city is maintaining the sidewalks through traction control and salt application because of the frigid temperatures.
He said the equipment used primarily to remove snow and ice proves another challenge. The city is reviewing ways of providing traction control with sand, salt or a bit of snow pack left over the ice.
“We are observing the process and watching it as it proceeds,” said Sikora. “For us to come in right now with heavy equipment and try to pull off the snow, we may just be exposing the ice again.”
On the residential side, traffic and enforcement bylaw officers have been kept busy responding to complaints of residents not clearing their sidewalks within the required 48 hours.
Traffic and bylaw enforcement co-ordinator Pat Simper said they do not have concrete numbers but this year the officers have been busy since the first snowfall.
Simper said he did not want to guess how many complaints they have written but he said there have been more than last year. Residents are given a 24-hour written notice and usually comply after the first or second visit.
The bylaw officers have the option of contacting city crews, who will clear the sidewalks and then bill the homeowner. The city offers free sand, limited to two pails, to residents at its Civic Yards site at 7721 40th Ave.
Starting next winter, the city sidewalk clearing and the residential clearing requirements will change. City council gave the go ahead to move to a three-day standard for clearing city sidewalks during the operating budget deliberations.
Sikora said the city is looking at the options to meet the new standard that will likely be in place next winter. They do not have the necessary resources now.
The overall snow clearing policy will get some tweaking before it comes to council in late June for final approval.