Plowing crews will have more achievable targets on when to remove snow from residential streets, main roads and trails, said several Red Deer city councillors on Monday.
Council passed a new Snow and Ice Control Policy after Public Works conducted an extensive review.
One change will see clearing residential streets taking place within 40 days and not 25 days as is suggested in the existing policy. Council learned the 25-day target wasn’t being met, but instead was being done on average 36 days.
As a result, administration suggested changing the policy to 40 days for plowing and windrowing (piling snow on either side of a street).
Coun. Chris Stephan was the sole one to vote against the policy.
“It’s going in the wrong direction,” said Stephan, regarding the residential timelines.
City manager Craig Curtis replied the city has significantly improved snow removal through additional dollars.
“The policy now reflects reality as opposed to a policy that hasn’t and cannot be achieved,” he said.
Public Works manager Greg Sikora said the city now has additional equipment for heading out on city streets.
Coun. Cindy Jefferies said the policy clearly shows what residents can expect after a snowfall. For instance, residents can expect plowing within 40 days.
“If you happen to be on the front end of service, your roads will get done very quickly,” Jefferies said. “If you happen to be at the end, you will suffer a bit longer, especially in the residential areas. I think that’s rotated because it seems like people say, ‘my area was done right away’ and then the next year they’ll say, ‘are you ever going to get to my area?’”
The policy specifies that lanes will be plowed on a service request basis. Lanes will be cleared with a single pass and windrows may be left on both sides.
Sidewalks on hills, bridges, high hazard locations, hospital access and downtown areas will be plowed within the targeted time of four days. All remaining will take place within 10 days.
Residents must clear their walks within 48 hours.
“I think we’re closing the gap on the expectations we have on our residents and the city puts on its staff,” said Coun. Tara Veer.
Plowing along select Waskasoo Park trails will take place within four days.
Veer said the policy doesn’t compromise on the main arterials, which will be plowed within 72 hours when eight cm have accumulated.
The top priorities (high hazard locations, hospital access, hills, bridges and overpasses) will be plowed within eight hours when there’s five cm of snow. These locations with on-street parking will be plowed and removed within 48 hours of completion of priority two plowing (arterials).
Like Stephan, Veer said she’s not completely satisfied with the residential standard.
“Even though it’s a match to what is actually occuring, I would like us in the future to strive to elevate that standard,” Veer said. “I know we can’t do that in a year, and there is discretion involved.”
According to the list of priorities on what gets done first, the new policy is essentially the same as the old one. The new one of six priorities is listed from highest to lowest: hills, bridges, etc.; arterials with focus on high collision intersections; downtown; collectors, transit routes, and residential streets next to schools; industrial and commercial; and residential.
The former policy of five priorities did not have a separate designation for downtown, but was listed as priority three (with bus routes and other collectors).
The policy also now includes more specifics, including definitions as to exactly what an arterial road and other necessary terms are.
“The (new policy) provides a lot more clarity for our citizens,” said Coun. Paul Harris. “I was quite passionate about the disparity between the standards for citizens and the standards for the city, and I am not completely happy we’re not there yet. But I recognize we’re taking the first few steps there.”
Harris added he’s glad an annual review will be done.
Stephan and Veer were the sole ones to oppose getting rid of the snow and ice control reserve policy.
As Stephan noted, the reserve was only adopted by council 18 months ago.
It was set up to respond to exceptional snow and ice events that exceed the base tax supported Public Works’ department operating budget.
“This was a way of having a reserve that we knew was sitting there and the citizens knew it was sitting there,” said Mayor Morris Flewwelling. “It was kind of an answer to a political issue — that there was money that could be directed to snow and ice control when we needed it.”
Flewwelling said it was realized though that the money was still allocated in that reserve whether it was spent or not.
Now the city manager has the discretion to bring a request for additional money so it accomplishes the same thing, Flewwelling said.
“Personally, if we had a major snow thing, I don’t think we’d be having this conversation,” said Stephan. “I think there was good thinking in putting in this reserve.”