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Residential street plowing unnecessary: Wyatt

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Transcona councillor Russ Wyatt remains convinced that the city-wide residential street plowing that begins tonight is unnecessary.

Wyatt, chair of the civic finance committee, said he acknowledges that many streets are rutted and hard packed, but he adds the streets are passable and plowing is unnecessary.

"As long as you drive to the conditions of the road, they are driveable," Wyatt said. "It’s a different thing if you’re getting stuck on your street, and you’re not getting stuck on your street right now if you’re driving to the conditions of the road."

Wyatt said the city cannot be held responsible for driving accidents under these conditions.

"If you’re not in control of your vehicle at all times, it’s the driver who is at fault – not the city," he said.

Residential street clearing begins at 7 p.m. on a 12-hour cycle. It’s expected to take five consecutive 12-hour shifts to clear all residential streets.

Street parking is banned in the areas where plowing is in effect and the city said vehicles will ticketed and or towed.

To learn which areas are being plowed, call 311 or online at: knowyourzone.winnipeg.ca

Wyatt said this snow storm provides the perfect setting to debate a recent operational review of the public works department, which recommended the city alter its snow clearing practices.

The city policy to clear streets down to the bare pavement and from curb to curb was only instituted in 2007, Wyatt said, adding the city could accomplish more snow clearing if that practice was changed.

"We could do residential streets more often," Wyatt said.

During major storms, the city policy is to first clear regional and collector streets and bus routes, followed by back lanes. Residential streets are only cleared if public works determines they are impassable.

A city spokeswoman said backlanes are cleared ahead of residential streets to ensure timely waste and recycling pick-up

Winnipeg is the only major city in Canada that clears the blocked driveways after plows have cleared streets, Wyatt said, pointing out that practice is not done for laneways.

Doing away with clearing blocked driveways would speed up the snow clearing process, he said.

"It’s a good debate to have," Wyatt said. "We introduced a Cadillac-level of service in 2008 and there is a cost to that and that cost keeps going up."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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