Morinville Council will consider lowering the snow removal threshold from 15 cm to 12 cm during 2024 budget deliberations.
by Colin Smith
Residential roads in Morinville would see an increased snow-clearing level if a proposed measure is adopted by town council.
Clearing residential streets when compacted snow accumulates to a depth of 12 centimetres instead of the current 15 centimetres was recommended in an update report on the town’s snow and ice control program presented to council at its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 23.
The recommendation is based on the results of a survey done in late March to gain feedback from residents about their satisfaction with the snow program.
The survey received more than 500 responses.
“What we found is that the majority of residents are in favour of increasing snow levels,” stated Jordan Betteridge, Acting General Manager, Community and Infrastructure Services.
A higher service level, resulting in clearing beginning at less snow accumulation, was supported by 67% of survey respondents, who saw problems with both driving and parking at the current level.
Of those who wanted a higher service level, 66% opted for a 12-centimetre threshold and 34% for a threshold of 10 centimetres.
The survey included the costs of improved service, which would be about $33,000 for a 12-centimetre threshold and $74,000 for a 10-centimetre threshold, based on average snowfall.
Most survey respondents were satisfied with the level of service on main, arterial and collector roads, where snow is cleared at a depth of 10 centimetres or less.
Betteridge said the results may reflect the fact that in the past Morinville formerly had a higher level of residential snow removal.
“Morinville used to have one of the best snow-clearing levels in the region,” he said. “In the last decade, it has been slowly regressing to where it is now, mostly due to the financial considerations of the town.”
The policy was changed from a 5-centimetre threshold in 2013, to a 5-10 centimetre threshold, and then to the current threshold in 2020 as a cost control measure following an above-average snowfall season.
With the survey results in mind, administration has recommended that the change to a 12-centimetre threshold be considered as part of council’s 2024 budget deliberations.
“Residents complaints should lesson with improved service results,” said Betteridge. “Hopefully with increasing the service levels we will be more aligned with what the residents expect.”
Along with satisfied residents, other potential advantages of a higher snow service standard include fewer staff hours spent on resident complaints, less equipment damage resulting from dealing with ice rather than snow, safer roads, easier management of ice build-up on sidewalks and reduced impact of spring melt.
The additional cost would be mainly due to paying for additional contracted trucking hours to work through more average snow clearings.
That cost will be included in the proposed 2024 budget to be considered by council. If the change is approved during the budget process, council’s snow and ice control policy and administrative directive would be amended in accordance with the service level change.
Asked by Councillor Stephen Dafoe if council would be presented with budget options for both 12-centimetre and 10-centimetre clearing options, Betteridge said the intention had been come foward with 12, but providing information on both options was possible.
“I wouldn’t want to lose sight of that potential opportunity, given that for many years it was five,” said Dafoe.
Council voted to accept the snow program update report as information.