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Winnipeg councillor says he would've waited to plow streets

A Winnipeg city councillor says he would have held off on clearing snow from residential streets, even though residents are growing frustrated about rutted, icy roads.

Russ Wyatt proposes changing snow-clearing budget calendar

Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt said on Tuesday that he would have held off on clearing snow from some streets. Councillors have been fielding angry calls in recent days from drivers about rutted roads. (CBC)

A Winnipeg city councillor says he would have put off clearing snow from residential streets, even though residents are growing frustrated about rutted, icy roads.

City crews will start clearing residential streets at 7 p.m. tonight in zones B, J, L, M, O, R and V, meaning a street parking ban will be in effect in those zones.

Plowing will continue on residential streets throughout the rest of this week. Residents should visit the city's website to check when a parking ban will be in effect for their street.

Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt says he would have held off on plowing some streets, even though councillors have been getting angry calls about ruts.

"As the chair of finance, I would have preferred maybe had we waited to do a residential plow, only because I think the residential streets are passable," he said Tuesday.

"Yeah, they are really rutted and they're rough, but as long as you drive to the conditions of the road, they are drivable."

Wants to change budget calendar

Snow clearing has been making it difficult for the city to balance its books.

It's currently running a $3.7-million deficit, and the latest snow removal effort will cost another $4 million.

Wyatt, who heads up the city's finance committee, is asking council to change the snow clearing budget to reflect the winter season, not the calendar year.

Currently, all city budgets — including the one for snow clearing — run from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.

Wyatt said that creates a budgetary crisis at year's end with a snow clearing budget that has an "artificial deadline" of Dec. 31 and "gets re-energized on Jan. 1."

The councillor proposed changing that budget's calendar so it would start on May 1 and end on April 30 the following year.

Doing so may create a headache for accountants, but it makes more sense, he said.

Wyatt's proposal will be looked at by council's executive policy committee. If approved, it will then go to council as a whole.

City not to blame for slippery roads

The cold and packed snow has been creating deep ruts on streets, including on Overdale Street, where a crash damaged two vehicles on Monday.

The driver of one of the vehicles, Traci Booth, told CBC News the deep and slippery ruts are to blame for her car spinning out of control on the street.

Booth said Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) has told her that she can expect to be found at fault for the collision, even though the street conditions were poor.

But Wyatt said the city is not to blame for crashes on slippery roads. Instead, drivers should just slow down, he said.

"You have to drive to the condition of the road — that's what MPI says," he said.

"If you're not in control of your vehicle at all times, it's the driver who is at fault, not MPI, not the city."

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