Ottawa residents complain about slow cleanup, 2 days after record snowstorm

Two days after Ottawa's first major snowstorm of the winter, residents are voicing their concerns about the slow pace of the cleanup efforts.

Some sidewalks still inaccessible two days after 26 cm of snow fell on Ottawa

Snow removal crews clean up in Gatineau on Dec. 30, 2015, after the city was blanketed with about 26 centimetres of snow the day before. Ottawa-Gatineau residents have been voicing their displeasure with the slow pace of the cleanup efforts. (Jean-Sébastien Marier/CBC)

The sheer volume of snow that fell on Ottawa earlier this week — combined with some illegal snow dumping — is making for a slower-than-expected cleanup, says the chairman of the city's transportation committee.

So much snow fell on Dec. 29 that the city's snow removal team has been unable to use blades to clear the sidewalks, said Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli.

Instead, crews are relying on snowblowers, a "slower process," Egli told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning on Thursday.

"We haven't had this much snow on the 29th of December since 1954," Egli said. "It's a significant amount of snow."

City residents have been taking to social media to voice their displeasure with the drawn-out cleanup after Tuesday's storm, which saw high winds and 26 centimetres of snow fall on downtown Ottawa.

Earlier Thursday, one of Egli's colleagues around the council table, Kitchisippi Coun. Jeff Leiper, walked around his ward and tweeted a series of shots of nearly-impassable roads and sidewalks.

Leiper wasn't the only one who was displeased with the cleanup, however.

Ottawa Morning received a number of complaints from listeners after asking how the city was doing with the cleanup.

In addition to the simple volume of snow, the cleanup efforts are being hampered, said Egli, by the fact there have been reports of homeowners and private contractors illegally dumping snow onto public sidewalks.

Egli urged anyone who spotted people pitching their snow onto the sidewalk to call 311 — but he added enforcing the bylaw isn't always easy.

"These are bylaw offences [but] the difficulty with any offence is you have to catch the people in the act," Egli said.

Nearly 1,000 storm-related calls

The City of Ottawa said it received 999 calls on Tuesday because of the inclement weather, with the most common complaint being about unplowed roads and thoroughfares

Fifty-three complaints Tuesday were related to illegal snow dumping, the city said.

City officials were unable to provide data for Wednesday or Thursday.

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