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Warmer temperatures have arrived, much to the relief of Winnipeggers at the end of their ropes with the heating bills, the girding for war at the door and the daily drive on square tires -- especially when they hit crenelated roads that test the most cautious of drivers. And in that vein -- or rut and ridge -- Mayor Sam Katz on Wednesday said a review of the city's snow-clearing policy may be due.

Mr. Katz's review will conclude the city's snow-clearing policy, which dictates when and what kind of machinery is deployed to clear roads to the pavement and curb-to-curb, was put to the test like no other December. Repeat snowstorms and deep, lasting cold saw the daily traffic carve deep ruts and washboard conditions into streets. Motorists were lurching or spinning even on major routes. That enraged Winnipeggers, who also contended with narrowed residential streets.

The admonitions of Coun. Justin Swandel aside, it is useful to remember that these have been extraordinary conditions -- protracted, unusual cold rarely seen over the last 120 years. A snow-clearing policy cannot be written to predict the extreme, nor could taxpayers afford a policy that routinely sent plows, buckets and graders to the streets immediately after each winter storm.

Mr. Katz's review would find numerous, isolated blips this winter created, avoidable headaches in some neighbourhoods. This winter's big lesson, however, may be that when a forecast calls for long, deep cold, aggressively plowing to the pavement following storms is smart practice, even when another storm is on the horizon. The extraordinary measure will cost money, and trigger repeat plowing in short order, but it is a reasonable defence against intractable ruts that pose an abiding danger on busy thoroughfares.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 10, 2014 A8

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