Councillors push for changes to snow clearing policies
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/03/2022 (373 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A winter of heavy snows has exposed serious problems with City of Winnipeg sidewalk clearing policies, two of its councillors say.
On Thursday, Coun. Cindy Gilroy (Daniel McIntyre) put forward a motion, backed by Coun. Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) calling for the city to consider a pair of changes while conducting its upcoming review of snow and ice clearing policies.
The councillors are seeking low-priority sidewalks near high-frequency transit routes (particularly in their own wards) to be upgraded in priority. They are also asking the city to consider reassuming control over a greater portion of snow clearing services, currently delegated to private contractors.
“It’s known (in Daniel McIntyre) we have some of the highest rates of Transit riders in the city… I think when they do the snow and ice clearing review that they need to look at prioritizing areas that have really good transit lines, because we are looking at getting more people taking transit,” Gilroy said, making special mention of Portage, Ellice, Wellington and Notre Dame avenues as hot spots in her ward.
Gilroy said while streets with a bus route are designated P2 — meaning they are to be cleared to the paved surface within 36 hours of a significant snowfall — when lower-priority streets leading to those routes are uncleared, snow can make Winnipeg Transit difficult to access.
Gilroy said she would like to see all sidewalks in her ward to be upgraded to P2 priority.
“In some of the portions of the area… I think we should be cleaning to cement. They are highly used in terms of the business around there and their connection to the different transit routes.”
As for bringing more snow clearing services in house, many times even higher-priority sidewalks were left uncleared or insufficiently cleared, Rollins said.
The current system has made it difficult for Winnipeggers to find out who is responsible for a problem and how to fix it, she added.
“Oftentimes, councillors and residents alike were told that it was a contractor,” Rollins said. “There were times when the city would even say, ‘Which contractor was it?’ I don’t like that level of accountability.”
Joelle Robinson, with the Manitoba League for Persons with Disabilities, said she’s “hugely in favour” of adding more high-priority sidewalks for snow clearing.
However, the motion fails to consider other important accessibility issues, she said: “People who have reduced mobility also need to be very much considered and prioritized.”
For example, Robinson said, loading zones need to be considered high priority.
“We’ve had situations where people have not been able to get to their jobs for three and four weeks because the snow is so bad, and they’re not clearing those spots that Transit Plus would use.”
Kyle Owens, president of Functional Transit Winnipeg, said while he was glad to see the motion recognized the importance of transit to Winnipeg’s plans, it doesn’t go far enough.
“The city should invest broadly, so that we have fast, effective sidewalk snow clearing every year,” he said.
That would increase Transit accessibility, and improved clearing city-wide, may also encourage more people to use public transit in lower-frequency areas, he added.
Rather than ask for a recommendation or a review, Owens said: “We can reverse service cuts and start funding the (Winnipeg) Transit Master Plan immediately.”
Updated on Thursday, March 24, 2022 6:35 PM CDT: Fixes typo.