Snow and Ice policy moving from administrative to Council-controlled policy

Snow removal policy

by Colin Smith

The Town of Morinville is a step closer to having an updated policy for the control of snow and ice on its roads and walkways.

A draft of the proposed policy was presented to Town Council at its July 12 regular meeting by Infrastructure Services Manager Jordan Betteridge.

One major change is that when adopted, it will be a council policy rather than an administrative policy as it is currently.

That reflects a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision holding the City of Nelson, B.C., liable for damages in the case of an injury related to its snow clearing policy.

“Regarding the Supreme Court case, the biggest takeaway is that the policy needs to be a council policy since snow and ice control service levels have a very high focus on public safety,” Betteridge said.

Most Public Works department service levels for snow and ice control would remain unaltered in the updated policy.

One change is that snow-removal contractors will be charged for the use of Morinville’s snow dump on a cost-recovery basis.

“We have reviewed what costs the town incurs to operate the snow dump for external users,” said Betteridge. “The new cost recovery model is being phased in over three years to allow businesses and contractors to adjust their own pricing.”

New clauses in the policy clarify the town’s service levels.

The regular hours for snow clearing are set at 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with holidays and weekends monitored by on-call staff. Extra staff may be called in for accumulations of over 10 centimetres.

If snow removal levels cannot be managed by town staff, such as after an extreme winter storm, removal hours may be extended, or contractors hired to assist.

Windrows will be used within streets in preparation for the removal of the cleared snow. The target for windrow removal is three days.

Road boulevards or medians may be used for snow storage.

Updating the snow and ice control policy has been underway since March, following a challenging 2021/2022 winter season that saw multiple major snowfalls, multi-day snow events, several freezing rain episodes, and a long stretch of extreme cold temperatures.

That resulted in Public Works being on the receiving end of a high volume of resident feedback.

Together with the updated policy, the administration has also drafted a snow and ice control plan that aims to provide guidance to the Town of Morinville staff and the public about how the policy will be implemented.

“We don’t have the budget to provide perfect service levels,” said Betteridge. “So there are things the public has to be aware of and take consideration of.”

Council voted to refer the snow and ice policy to its September 13 regular meeting and directed the administration to bring forward service level options with budget considerations for its consideration.

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