Red Deer city council to revisit snow policy

All things snow will be up for debate at Red Deer city council on Tuesday.

All things snow will be up for debate at Red Deer city council on Tuesday.

Council will delve knee deep into the city’s new Integrated and Accessible Transportation policy, formerly the Snow and Ice Control policy.

The changes come following a winter of extreme weather conditions that smashed snowfall records across the province.

To date, the city has spent $5.6 million for 2014, more than $1 million over the $4.5 million budgeted, as a result of the unprecedented conditions.

The budget for 2015 will be set during upcoming budget talks.

Council will be asked to approve policy updates that reflect new triggers and targets for the snow and ice control, amend street land use bylaw to allow private contractors to remove windrows and amend traffic bylaw to allow movable signs for parking restrictions. The policy was revised last winter and tweaked this summer at the committee level.

Typically, the city plows residential areas once a season, in a 40-day window, and leaves a large windrow on one side of the street.

Because of the amount of snow and ice last winter, council directed crews to step outside policy and conduct two flat-blade campaigns within 20 days. Small windrows were piled on both sides of residential streets.

Proposed revisions to policy will make flat-blade plowing standard, along with other tweaks.

Public works manager Greg Sikora said now when there is 10 cm of snow on the ground, the plows will go into neighbourhoods and trim it down to a five-cm snowpack within 15 days. The plows will not grade down to pavement. The city estimates this could be at least four times a year in a typical season.

There will also be changes to sidewalk and industrial area clearing.

Sikora said it was decided that the new policy would be broken down over two years in order to manage the changes to service and training for operators.

Council approved roughly $1.9 million in capital for new equipment, including plows. Sikora said the new equipment will be adequate for the two years.

“The triggers have been reduced,” said Sikora. “We are starting sooner and the targets have been reduced on certain assets, which means we are getting it done quicker.”

The policy will return to council in another year for review.

The city was forced to open an Emergency Operations Centre and a third temporary snow storage site for private operators in order to handle the massive volumes of white stuff last winter.

The Edgar Snow Storage site, which reached an astounding height of 31 metres, took until the fall to melt.

The city received up to 500 calls for service and complaints a day, compared to the 70 to 85 calls a day received during a typical winter season.

On Oct. 30, the city will launch a new campaign to help residents understand what they can expect this winter from the snow and ice control program.