The District of Hope’s plows were on the streets during last week’s storm, yet one resident says the city’s priority areas for snow removal are flawed.
With a winter storm warning in place, Hope residents dealt with 10 to 25 centimetres of daily snowfall from Wednesday to Friday last week.
Perry Madsen, manager of public works for the District of Hope, said vehicles begin to plow streets as soon as snow starts falling, as per the district’s snow removal policy.
Crews first went out last Wednesday, and Madsen said there were seven staff working 14-hour shifts during the day and two staff working 12-hour shifts at night.
Contractors plowed sidewalks and carted snow from the middle of Wallace Street at night.
As of last Thursday noon, Madsen said the district had covered nearly all of Hope’s streets.
He said it takes 36 hours to clear all of Hope, including Silver Creek and Kawkawa Lake areas, provided the snow stops so crews don’t have to start again.
The district operates on a priority system; all of Hope’s streets are categorized as priority one, two or three. Priority one roads are plowed first. These include bus routes; school zones; fire, police and ambulance stations; and the downtown business core, according to the district policy.
“Until we get the red routes completely clear and free, we don’t move onto any of the other routes,” Madsen said.
“People get upset, rightfully so, that their street hasn’t been plowed, the reason being we have all of our assets diverted to these prioritized routes. So once they’re cleaned and free and safe, then we move on to the blue and then green.”
Recreational routes and uninhabited roads are not plowed or sanded, the district snow removal policy states.
Resident George Rice said a steep street beside his house, Glenaire Drive, was not plowed until 10 to 11 p.m. last Wednesday.
After this, crews plowed once a day during the snowstorm, yet between each time Rice said the street accumulated enough snow to make the roads impassable for the rest of the day.
A resident of Hope for over 30 years, Rice said he has seen the quality of snow removal decline over the years.
After a difficult winter last year, Rice said he wants to see the city consult with residents before they decide which streets are a priority. He wants to see areas which are difficult to get in and out of made a priority.
“I just want to emphasize, I’m not complaining about the guys doing the work. The guys driving the trucks, I’m sure, are doing their darndest. They’re working long hours and when they do show up they’re doing a good job,” he said.
“But the overall plan, you either don’t have enough equipment and people or you’re putting it in the wrong area when someone has to go 16 to 17 hours snowed in.”
Madsen urged residents to be patient as crews plow the roads during snowfall. He said the district has been getting many non-emergency calls, which take manpower away from the snow removal effort.
“Unless it’s a medical emergency or that type of event that you have to get out, please refrain and understand that we’re doing our best,” he said. “Once the snow has stopped and the street hasn’t been cleaned for 24 hours, then give us a call.”
Madsen said residents can help move the snow removal process along by moving cars off the street, especially at night, and making sure to put winter tires or chains on to avoid getting stuck on roads.