Snow removal policy to come back to Council later this year
by Colin Smith
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Updates to the Town of Morinville snow and ice control policy will be coming later this year, but service level changes are unlikely
The policy update is in response to this winter’s extreme weather conditions and the unprecedented volume of resident complaints about road and walkway clearing that resulted from them.
Infrastructure Services Manager Jordan Betteridge outlined potential policy changes in a report to Council at its committee of the whole meeting Tuesday.
Betteridge noted that snow clearing standards had been changed in 2020.
Under the 2018 policy, all roads were cleared once snow depths were between 5 to 10 centimetres.
The administrative policy adopted in 2020 assigned priority levels to roads, which were only cleared once the snow depth for that priority was reached. That meant residential roads began to be cleared only when snow depth had reached 15 centimetres.
According to Betteridge, the dry 2020/2021 winter season didn’t provide a good opportunity to see the new policy in action, but it received a full test this year, with full town clears in November and January.
Observations of the process, along with resident and council feedback will be incorporated into the policy changes.
Among those changes will be to shift it from being an administration to a council policy.
Others will include setting out the town’s standard snow clearing operating hours and after-hours response process and inclusion of an extreme cold weather service levels clause.
Ambiguous clauses will be clarified, with “snow accumulation” defined as the depth of compacted and uncompacted snow on the drive lanes of a roadway, and that “service target for completion” for each priority starts after the snowfall ends and when the previous priority is completed.
In the discussion of the report, Deputy Mayor Stephen Dafoe pointed out that numbered steps in the priority process were sometimes confused with work being done in a similarly numbered zone.
Betteridge acknowledged there has been confusion and said that snow-clearing notifications would be improved wither through changing one set of numbers to letters or using map colours to highlight zones.
Responding to a question from Councillor Scott Richardson, Betteridge said that in a normal year Infrastructure Services is able to maintain current service levels, with the community fully cleared in five days. That was done in November, while in January clearing took 10 days because of the ice buildup.
“This was a freak year,” he said. “Right now I wouldn’t make too many changes on this basis. If it does recur next year and seems to be becoming a norm it might be worth reconsidering.”
Betteridge said that the new snow removal policy could be brought back to Council in April or May.
The report was received as information.