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This article was published 7/1/2019 (308 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s high time the city recalibrates its priorities when it comes to clearing sidewalks after major snowfalls, a city councillor suggested Monday.
North Kildonan Coun. Jeff Browaty said he believes the work of Winnipeg’s snow-clearing crews is second to none in North America, but there are areas where sidewalks are "absolute lifelines for the neighbourhood."
"I do believe that where sidewalks are lifelines to the area it’s an important thing that should be done first-off," Browaty said.
"There are areas where people need to walk to the bus, where kids need walk to school, where you have senior residences — and many seniors don’t drive — in my mind, those are far higher priorities than cycling."
The declared snow route parking ban goes into effect at midnight and continues until 7 a.m. Tuesday. Vehicles parked in violation may be ticketed $100 and towed.
The parking ban is expected to remain in effect nightly until clearing is completed. Streets where the ban is in effect are marked with signs.
Plowing of residential streets will begin Wednesday morning. A residential parking ban will go in effect at 7 a.m.
When sufficient snow falls to trigger widespread clearing, the priority should be on roads and downtown sidewalks, with bike paths coming last on the list, he said.
"The reality is that the numbers will prove there are a lot more people who need to walk to the bus or get down the sidewalk than there are cycling in the winter," he said.
"I just don’t believe Winnipeg is ever going to see massive cycling in the winter. It’s never going to be mainstream here."
Browaty tweeted two photos Monday afternoon comparing a well-used, mushy Henderson Highway sidewalk where the going was tough, to a scraped-to-the-asphalt bike lane in the Exchange District.
The city has been contemplating enhanced snow clearing for priority sidewalks and bike paths for several years.
In March 2016, Waverley West Coun. Janice Lukes called for a report to look into the feasibility of improving snow clearing on priority sidewalks and bike paths, but it got seven extensions before it was tabled last May.
Public works communications officer Ken Allen said the budget for the initiative won’t be considered until March.
"The idea would be to make it, so, from south Pembina Highway to downtown you could travel that distance clear on active transportation pathways," Allen said.
"It would improve snow clearing of sidewalks and active transportation paths from all parts of the city to downtown. If approved, the strategy would be implemented not this winter but next winter."
The city’s current policy is to have major streets cleared whenever three centimetres of snow accumulates. Clearing isn’t triggered on bus routes, collector streets and back lanes until five centimetres have accumulated.
Winnipeggers awoke Monday to find an overnight snowfall of more than 14 centimetres, leading to a large deployment of street-maintenance resources throughout the day.
"Using the mild temperatures, leveraging that, we started our operation with some salting on the main streets. Once the snow compounded we started our snow plow operation on the main streets as well," said Michael Cantor, the city's manager of street maintenance.
"This morning we started our operation on bike routes, bike lanes, sidewalks and back lanes. And we’re going to have a bigger operation tonight on our bus routes and collector streets."
More than 200 pieces of equipment were deployed Monday, including loaders, graders and truck plows. That number is expected to nearly double once the city begins working on residential plowing Wednesday.
Environment Canada warned that a cold front bringing blowing snow and strong northwest winds was heading into the city overnight Monday into Tuesday.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.