The City of Vancouver emerged from its holiday shutdown to announce that starting Tuesday more than 300 city staff have been redirected from their normal duties to address the problem of perilous streets and sidewalks.
"We've essentially shut down all our non-emergency construction work and redeployed those crews into priority areas," said Jerry Dobrovolny, general manager of engineering services.
Large swaths of the city haven't seen any clearing, and nearly one month after the first of multiple snowfalls many sidewalks and residential streets remain treacherous, and in some cases, unpassable.
Approximately 150 staff have been reassigned to salting, sanding and clearing neighbourhood streets. That's in addition to crews already attending to main and arterial roadways.
Another 115 staff have been reassigned to help salt, sand and clear back alleys in the hope of aiding the garbage and green bin collection backlog.
And approximately 50 staff have been reassigned to assist in bylaw enforcement efforts aimed at getting businesses and property owners to clear their sidewalks.
This is the sidewalk on E. 11th at Guelph. Some parents say the short walk to school was terrifying. No salt here. pic.twitter.com/FH4TqiUgtD— @FarrahMerali
"We've received thousands of complaints," said Dobrovolny. "We follow up with either a ticket or we'll go through the court system. We have 36 court applications in progress right now for properties that are simply not dealing with the sidewalks as they need to."
When asked why it took so long for the city to act, Dobrovolny answered it was a "big decision" to shut down non-emergency construction and reassign the workers.
Dobrovolny said the city has also sent staff to help clear 13 Vancouver public schools that were having trouble clearing access routes.
"This winter is not typical," he said noting, the city spent $2.5 million on snow response in December. "We've already used over 7,000 tonnes of salt already. Last year we used about a thousand."
He recommends people use the VanConnect app to register problem locations.
'There's no point why I should get a ticket'
Many people say the city's actions are too late, including a senior citizen who received a parking ticket on Tuesday.
"It's up to you to clean up the road. If they can't do it, how do they expect me to do it. I'm not an expert, I'm an old man," said Sadrudin Pisani.
He was driving his vehicle with all-season tires on East 48th Avenue on Monday, but got stuck as his car tried to climb a hill before Prince Edward Street.
As he tried to back up, the car went sideways, jamming up against a parked vehicle, making it impossible to move.
Pisani said no towing companies would move his car, and despite the request he left on the windshield, the City issued him a parking ticket.
"It's not my fault, it's the weather. If my car gets stuck like that and I can't move, there's no point why I should get a ticket," he said.