City-wide residential sidewalk clearing will begin Thursday morning and beleaguered residents of Island Lakes and the Maples should get their streets plowed by the end of the week.
City officials updated snow clearing efforts during a news conference this afternoon, following the end of the 72-hour residential street plowing initiative.
Officials – Mayor Sam Katz, public works chairman Coun. Justin Swandel, public works director Brad Sacher – said the poor condition of the roads this past week was largely the result of a combination of unusual weather factors: two snow storms back-to-back surrounded by frigid temperatures that left ruts and ridges akin to concrete and impossible to remove.
But the good news is that the coming warmer weather will make it easier to finally get rid of those ruts.
"Overall, both our contracted resources and our city resources have done a great job under very difficult circumstances," Sacher said.
"We’ve had some really unprecedented things happening," Sacher said: a total of 30 centimetres of snow fall in back-to-back snow storms with extremely low temperatures.
"We’re going to have problems, we did have problems, and we’ve been addressing them."
Sacher said the coming warmer weather will make it easier to remove the ruts.
Crews will finally make it to Island Lakes and The Maples – two neighbourhoods where the private contractor failed to do any residential street clearing during two streetclearing initiatives – and that work should be done by Saturday.
Katz said people may not like the results but city crews and private contractors did the best job they could under extremely difficult circumstances.
"I’m not going to sit here and claim that we’ve done the best that can be done," Katz said. "I will say to you that we used all the resources that we have... and doing the best we can."
Sacher said compounding the situation, the weather and resulting road conditions also led to increased equipment breakdown but there was no time for the maintenance, which slowed work down further.
Despite the high praise by Sacher, Swandel said the work of every private contractor will be reviewed prior to contracts being renewed for next winter.
Residential sidewalks will be cleared beginning Thursday morning. However, Sacher said the normal 5-day effort will likely take seven days to complete because of the heavy compacted snow.
Clearing of ruts and ridges will take place at night, Sacher said.
Officials in the public works department have been heavily criticized for failing to remove the ruts before the temperatures dropped and turned them rock-solid.
Katz defended the public works officials, saying it’s always easier to make better decision after the fact.
"The realities are the (public works) department followed the policy, which was set by council, and based on that policy, they decided when (crews) are going to go out," Katz said.
"If someone had a crystal ball and could have seen everything in the future, they might have made different decisions."
Sacher and Katz said the snow clearing wasn’t affected by budget considerations but what officials believed was the correct moves to make at the time.