Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Residential plowing to begin Sunday night

Major routes cleared of risky snow, ice ruts

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The city's major streets should be free of dangerous ice ruts later today after two days of almost around-the-clock plowing operations -- and residential streets will get the scrape next, city officials said Friday.

Plowing of residential streets is to start Sunday at 7 p.m., should be completed by Wednesday, the city said today.

Jim Berezowsky, manager of streets maintenance, said vehicle owners who park on streets should check with snow clearing zone they are in so they are not hit with a fine and see their vehicles towed. The schedule for the lettered zones around the city are posted on knowyourzone.winnipeg.ca.

Plowing of major streets, including bus routes, started Wednesday evening to remove ice ruts. Operations continued through today.

Berezowsky said residential plowing will see streets snow and ice removed down to the pavement and be completed Jan. 8 at 7 a.m.

The entire snow removal operation will cost the city about $3.5-$4 million and involve up to 350 trucks, graders and front-end loaders.

'You don't have to be a rocket scientist to predict that we were going to get rutting'

-Coun. Russ Wyatt

No rocket scientists needed: Wyatt

The street-clearing efforts during the past two days came almost four days after Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, chairman of the civic finance committee, said he first asked city officials to begin plowing to stop ice ruts from building up.

Wyatt said he asked Berezosky on Saturday to start plowing residential streets right away to deal with last weekend's snowfall.

He said from eight to 12 cm of snow fell on the city, an amount within the city's snow-clearing policy that requires an average of 10 cm of snow to send out the plows.

"With the cold weather that we were getting, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to predict that we were going to get rutting," Wyatt said. "I said to Jim, 'Go plow the streets.' They said, 'Thanks for your advice, councillor.' "

Wyatt added Berezosky and senior officials have the final say on sending out snow-clearing equipment.

A decision to clear streets of ice ruts wasn't made until days later. Crews were deployed late New Year's Day.

Wyatt said he could not explain the delay.

"Why has the senior administration done half the things they've done over the last year?" he asked, referring to fire-station and new police headquarters matters that have dogged city hall. "I think it's harder to plow now because it's all rutted ice. There's no doubt it's tough on the infrastructure. It's tough on the machinery."

Wyatt said the public service should be more responsive to the community.

"When it comes to council policy there should be an element of common sense. It's pretty clear that we were going to have cold weather and we were going to have ruts again and we had enough snow to justify plowing. There was nothing stopping them from following the policy -- they chose not to.

"It was their call, but I think it was the wrong call."

Plow delayed to deal with fresh snow: Berezowsky

Berezowsky said Friday the residential clearing operations were delayed to deal with today’s forecasted snowfall of 10 to 12 centimetres.

"It was a grave concern to us to go out and spend about $2 million on a plowing operation and possibly go right back out on a plowing operation the next day," he said. "That was all based on weather forecast. It is not as much a cost-saving thing as it’s an operational consideration for the services that we deliver.

"Business-wise, we’re looking at the best interests of the citizens of this city."

Public works chairman Justin Swandel (St. Norbert) said he's fielded about half-a-dozen complaints about the road ruts.

"There are parts of the city that are worse than others," he said. "You're always going to get some buildup even with a little snowfall as cars drive on the roads and when you get extremely cold temperatures like this they anchor down on the roads."

Swandel said the city could have responded sooner to at least clear major streets.

"You try and predict the future a bit and sometimes that can hurt you," he said. "I think we got stung a little bit this time because we were expecting more snow between Christmas and New Year's."

Wyatt said at the last finance committee meeting in late November, he introduced a motion to look at moving the city's snow-clearing budget out of the Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 budget cycle to reflect Winnipeg's winter season.

The motion called to place the $32-million budget on a May 1 to April 30 budget calendar to end the artificial "budget wall" at calendar year-end.

Currently, if the snow-clearing budget has been exhausted at calendar year-end, funds from the city's financial-stabilization reserve can be used.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 3, 2014 B1

History

Updated on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 10:25 AM CST: Adds details of residential plowing.

1:19 PM: Adds comment from Berezowsky.

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