Few issues have produced as many calls and emails to my office as the state of snow clearing of city streets and sidewalks in December and early January.
First the good: once the weather turned milder on Jan. 9, the city put on a major push to clear priority routes and residential streets down to pavement, and to clear sidewalks. Several residents called to praise the efforts of the snow plow operators on such streets as Talon and Abbotsford. It is also worth noting the good news that council did not cut the funding for snow clearing in the 2014 budget, as some people believe. We also did not cut the budget for sanding, nor has there been any change in the city’s road sanding policy.
"Bad" describes the situation in at least three of St. Vital’s snow clearing zones. These zones are part of a city-wide system. Each zone is designed to be plowed within a 12-hour window of time, during which cars are not allowed to be parked on the street.
For the third consecutive plow, the 12-hour time frame was not reached in at least one zone in south St. Vital, which I heard about loud and clear from homeowners on streets like Wales, Meadowood and Ashworth.
There were also problems with at least two other zones. People called to complain about getting ticketed for illegal parking and then not seeing a plow for several days, and the quality of the plows done days late when cars had returned to park (such as Whitley).
I called publicly for the city to terminate the service contract for one particular zone, due to the ongoing problems. I will continue to push this issue, as well as for a review of the entire "know your zone" system, which I first requested in March 2013.
Finally, the ice ruts on main streets were just plain ugly. While I am neither a scientist nor an engineer, it now appears that the city waited too long to deal with the first snowfall of the year, and I apologize for the inconvenience caused to residents.
This was a city-wide problem, and the city will need to respond more quickly when the next snowstorm comes.
In summary, please keep calling and emailing my office about snow clearing issues, and we will continue our efforts to get the roads and sidewalks plowed and the zone system working.
Brian Mayes is a Winnipeg city councillor for St. Vital.