Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Street scraping begins tonight

Some question why city waited so long

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Finally, city plows will attack residental neighbourhoods tonight to hack down the road ruts that have jolted drivers, damaged the suspension of vehicles and caused accidents.

Only one question: What took them so long?

Last week's dump of snow caused the city to deploy more than 300 pieces of equipment to clear the main streets and collector routes -- even back alleys and sidewalks.

The city had mulled since last Thursday whether to order the plow. But it wasn't decided until Monday afternoon to begin plowing the hundreds of kilometres of residential streets starting today at 7 p.m.

CAA Manitoba wanted faster action. The organization representing drivers believes the hard-and-high ruts made it dangerous to drive city streets.

That is, calling on the city to plow residential streets when ruts -- like the ones left from last week's blizzard -- cause dangerous driving conditions.

"When the roads are in an unsafe condition, then money can't be the first factor," CAA spokeswoman Liz Peters said on Monday.

"Safety has to be the main factor. We think it is time to plow."

Peters said they have reports from its members the ruts are currently so deep, cars can't get out of them to change lanes.

As well, Peters said because there is ice at the bottom of the ruts, vehicles are sliding into other vehicles.

She said one motorist told CAA when they tried to drive out of the ruts they lost control and began spinning.

Forecast snow delayed plow: public works

North Kildonan's Jeff Browaty, a member of Mayor Sam Katz's powerful executive policy committee (EPC), said he doesn't understand why it took so long to clear residential streets.

"I'm surprised and frankly a bit disappointed it took them this long to initiate a full residential plowing operation," Browaty said. "In my own experiences, I've found navigating residential streets in North Kildonan, even at very slow speeds, to be challenging due to the ruts and slick nature of the compacted snow."

Tonight's full residential street plowing brings an accompanying ban on residential street parking.

Coun. Russ Wyatt said council delegated the decision on when to plow to the public works director, Brad Sacher.

Sacher said the city could have tackled residential streets last week but held off until now because more snow was in the forecast.

"We didn't want to start a plow if more snowfall was coming," Sacher said, adding the city believed most streets were passable and the decision was to use the weekend to assess the situation.

With nothing but sunny skies in the forecast, Sacher said residential streets will now be done.

'We must all slow down': Wyatt

Wyatt, finance chairman and also a member of EPC, said he found residential streets were rutted but driveable.

"We must all slow down a bit when driving," Wyatt (Transcona) said. "We live in Winnipeg -- not Waco, Texas.

"Most any other city hit with last Thursday's storm would have been shut down for a week."

A survey of city councillors found driving conditions varied across the city.

Brian Mayes (St. Vital) said parts of his ward were clear but he did receive complaints from residents living near St. George School and River Pointe.

John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) said he believed driving conditions were "dangerous" in parts of his ward.

Grant Nordman (St. Charles), another member of EPC, said motorists need to relax.

"Was driving good? No; Was it passable? Yes," Nordman said. "It's Winnipeg, it's winter -- leave earlier, take your time, relax."

Wyatt said the residential plow will exhaust city's 2013 snow clearing budget, adding he's concerned another snow storm this month will push the city into a deficit for this year.

"I think we should have waited," Wyatt said.

"The streets were passable."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca
kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

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WORD ON THE STREET

MECHANICS: Vehicles don't like it rough

If you feel jarred by ruts that have carved up Winnipeg streets, your vehicle feels your pain.

The ruts cause problems in the front end of a vehicle, specifically in the alignment, steering components and suspension, Rudy Epp owner of Rudy's Auto Service said.

If tire pressure is low, the ruts can damage rims and tires above and beyond what may happen to the suspension, said Myron Naumik, body shop manager of Macdonald Auto Body.

"Just turn up the radio and take it slow, and make sure you have the proper tire pressure."

POLICE: A question of traction

Winnipeg does not put snow tires on police cruisers. "It's something we would like to see, but ultimately it's the service's responsibility. Our members are well-trained drivers," said George Van Mackelbergh, vice-president of the Winnipeg Police Association.

"The city is talking about cutbacks to the police budget. If they cut back services they won't be paying money for snow tires.

"But it's a difficult time to respond to calls because the other drivers are getting reacquainted with the dangerous conditions."

FIREFIGHTERS: Heavy trucks don't need snow tires

The large trucks firefighters drive probably don't need snow tires, said Alex Forrest, president of the United Firefighters of Winnipeg.

Forrest said firefighters respond to 93,000 fire and paramedic calls per year and many of those are in winter driving conditions.

"It's part of being a firefighter here. We're a winter city and we go in the worst conditions."

MPI: A rash of crashes

On Monday alone, there were almost 1,000 collision claim files opened with Autopac.

So far this month, there have been 3,900 claims, compared with 3,600 claims last year at this time and 3,000 in 2011, said Brian Smiley, a spokesman for Manitoba Public Insurance.

-- compiled by Kevin Rollason and Danielle Da Silva

Know your zone: City of Winnipeg snow zones

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 10, 2013 A3

History

Updated on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 6:51 AM CST: Replaces photo, adds question for discussion

7:59 AM: adds video, adds map

8:00 AM: adds snow zone schedule

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