City to plow residential streets amid complaints
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The City of Winnipeg has decided to plow residential streets following a flurry of complaints.
The plowing operation was declared late Tuesday afternoon, about a day after the city’s streets maintenance manager told the Free Press he expected to wait until an additional five to 10 cm of snow had fallen. After another inspection, the decision to plow was made without that extra snow.
A residential parking ban will start at 7 a.m. Thursday and end at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The head of council’s public works committee believes council should consider increasing the annual snow-clearing budget to help boost the service level.
“It might (require a higher budget)… I’m hearing that’s what the public wants,” said Coun. Janice Lukes.
Lukes noted climate change is altering weather patterns, which can make predicting road conditions more difficult.
Council has devoted about $35 million to snow clearing and ice control in each of the last several years, a budget it expects to exceed by $40 million in 2022.
In an email, public works spokesman Ken Allen said crews found residential streets were passable after a significant snowfall on Nov. 10 and 11, after which officials expected the snow would be compacted into a more level condition.
“Unfavourable weather conditions with continuously high winds, along with additional accumulations of dry snow, prevented the snow from compacting as expected, and resulted in less than favourable driving and walking conditions on the (residential street) network. Upon inspection (Tuesday), the decision was made to plow residential streets,” wrote Allen.
The city estimates about 22 centimetres of fluffy snow has accumulated since winter conditions set in, resulting in about 12 cm of “meaningful snowfall,” based on water content.
Winnipeg’s snow-clearing policy notes residential streets are normally maintained to a compacted snow surface but streets will be plowed to bare pavement “whenever conditions allow during an all-out plowing operation.” This begins when an inspection warrants a cleaning operation, usually after 10 cm of snow or an equivalent amount of snow drifting.
Lukes said the decision not to plow sooner triggered many complaints.
“It was a call based on the (expected) weather conditions… The public service feels they made the right call. They’re the experts. But I’m hearing from a lot of residents that they don’t feel the public service made the right call,” said Lukes.
Many Winnipeggers have recently turned to social media to complain about snow clearing, with some posting pictures of snow-filled sidewalks or complaining about cars getting stuck.
Lukes said the city must also find ways to improve sidewalk snow-clearing, especially for older adults and people with disabilities.
Allen said the city is updating training for plow operators.
“We are reviewing and updating plow operator training to include information related to accessibility in order to improve the level of service. It is expected that once training is implemented in 2023 that the standard for snow clearing will be improved for all sidewalk users,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, since about 18,000 addresses are switching to new snow zones this winter, Winnipeggers are asked to doublecheck their street’s snow zone letter on the city’s website, through the Know Your Zone app, or by contacting 311. To check out when each snow zone will be plowed, residents can visit Winnipeg.ca/snow
During the residential parking ban, drivers who move their vehicles to driveways are asked to avoid parking within three metres of the curb, to allow space for the removal of snow ridges.
Vehicles parked in violation of the ban are subject to a $200 ticket and could be towed.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.