by Colin Smith
Morinville residents can expect to see some changes in the way the streets are cleared of snow this coming winter.
Windrows and towed vehicles will be among the results of those changes.
Council was presented with a report on changes to the Town’s snow clearance policy at its Committee of the Whole meeting Sept. 15.
According to Iain Bushell, General Manager, Community and Infrastructure Services, the Snow and Ice Control Policy changes stem from a review of snow clearing practices undertaken during the 2019-2020 winter season.
The review found that level of service provided by the Town of Morinville has been higher than that of neighbouring municipalities.
“It was noted on several occasions that the Public Works team commonly worked extended hours during snowfall events to clear snow, incurring overtime costs,” Bushell stated in his report to Council. “None of the 2019-2020 snowfall events were classified as an emergency as snowfall was within normal winter conditions for Morinville, yet the Public Works team often worked extended hours in order to complete entire neighbourhoods or zones within a single day.
“Delays were often caused by a number of factors including failure of some residents to move automobiles from the roadway as directed, mechanical breakdown of snow clearing equipment or by reduced staffing levels. The drive to physically push snow rather than plowing it to the side of the roadway also led to large contracted service expenditures as we employed additional trucks to remove snow.”
The policy changes are intended to provide a level of service that is achievable within the current staffing levels and approved budget, as well as being more in line with neighbouring communities.
Normal winter snowfall will now be cleared during normal working hours, with overtime reserved for emergency or unforeseen events.
Target service levels will depend on snowfall depth. When the depth of snow is appropriate, snow clearing operations will prioritize the plowing of routes first, followed by the removal of windrows second.
Windrows would usually be cleared in one to two days, Bushell said.
The Town will now tow vehicles in enforcing no parking requirements, to improve efficiency. The Administration will devise a plan to communicate with residents about parking restrictions.
“Bravo for towing vehicles,” said Councillor Stephen Dafoe. “I’ve been saying that for years. When we have to go back it costs lots of money.”
Mayor Barry Turner expressed his appreciation for the work done to ensure sustainability.
Said Councillor Rebecca Balanko, “I know there will always be complaints, but you always do a stellar job of making things run smoothly.”
The report was received by Council as information.