The city’s snow dump at the end of Comer Street is only used to store snow removed by city crews due to cost-saving measures.

The city’s snow dump at the end of Comer Street is only used to store snow removed by city crews due to cost-saving measures.

City tries to address snow removal complaints

In an effort to cut costs the city’s snow dump at the foot of Comer Street is now only being used for its own snow removal efforts.

In an effort to cut costs the city’s snow dump at the foot of Comer Street is now only being used for its own snow removal efforts.

The move comes after the city realized it was spending $25,000 to $30,000 to move third-party snow, said development services manager Gary Muraca.

“We were getting lots of snow from places such as stores, shopping centres, condos and the school district,” he said. “We’re still pushing our own snow, but nothing to the extent  we were.”

Not everyone is happy with the change, including the strata council at Sun Ridge Condominiums who wrote a letter to city council saying it set its budget last March and cannot afford an increase in its snow removal budget.

“This move will affect small businesses and people who live in trailer parks, apartments or condominium complexes, as opposed to private residents,” the letter stated.

The condominium’s concerns are part of a huge amount of criticism the city has received over its snow removal this season.

Many residents have complained since the city decided in November to reinforce its 30-year-old-sidewalk snow removal policy that requires property owners to clear the sidewalks themselves.

“The city wasn’t being assertive enough in the past,” Coun. Ivan Bonnell said. “It’s the same in the summer with boulevards, property owners are required to keep them clean and mow them.”

While council does not have an appetite to increase the snow removal budget, it has asked public works to make some adjustments to ensure when snow accumulates it is dealt with.

Right now the policy says if it snows 5 cm or more crews have to do parking lots and sidewalks and if it snows 10 cm or more they have to pick up the snow.

This winter there haven’t been any single huge snow events, but the several there were between Dec. 18 and Jan. 2 resulted in piles of snow left to sit for days.

Muraca said it normally takes about two days to get into the downtown and then five days to reach residential areas to clean up after a big snow fall.

“I found from Dec. 18 until the beginning of January we were buried and couldn’t get caught up,” Muraca said, noting it took crews forever to get back into residential areas so eventually they made the call to stay in residential areas like Glendale and 12th Avenue that hadn’t been plowed.

“That’s why we saw the accumulation in the downtown core, it wasn’t a case of our crews not being out there.”

And with only six persons per shift for the whole town it’s not enough people to react really quickly to big events, he added.

Compared to 2014, the city did more snow hauling and plowing in 2015, but did less sanding and salting, Muraca said.