NDP leader calls for snow-removal review
Province must 'demand accountability' for Charlottetown snow clearing
The province should ensure an independent review is undertaken of Charlottetown's snow-clearing efforts, says P.E.I. NDP Leader Mike Redmond.
The difficulty caused by inadequate snow removal in the city has been enormous, said Redmond.
He said he's heard a lot of complaints from Charlottetown residents about how long it's taking the city — which received 120 cm of snow in the past few weeks — to clear snow from streets and sidewalks.
"It is cause for concern when you hear that they can't get out of their home, or the street has only been plowed once in 10 days or the sidewalk is not passable," said Redmond.
He wants Municipal Affairs Minister Wes Sheridan to step in and call for a review of the city's public works department.
"The province needs to show the leadership in this role, and push the process forward and, you know, really demand some accountability because people are very upset," said Redmond.
Sheridan told CBC News in an email that "both orders of government are doing all they can to deal with this challenging weather."
Meanwhile, Paul Johnston, Charlottetown's manager of public works, said it's been tough keeping up with the abnormally large and frequent snowfalls, but that 75 to 80 per cent of sidewalks are now passable.
"It's a difficult passable, you're not going to be able to get a stroller or wheelchair or something on some of those sidewalks," he said.
Some sidewalks still haven't been plowed in a week, and are snowed in.
"We're having difficulty baring off streets, sidewalks are really difficult to bare off, you're not going to get summer conditions on your sidewalk in the winter season," said Johnston.
The city is receiving a handful of daily complaints about the sidewalk situation, he said.
The city owns or contracts 11 sidewalk plows, They've been working 16 hours a day, with Christmas and most of Boxing Day off.
They've also experienced many breakdowns.
It's tricky to budget for and plan the right balance of staff and equipment when snowfall is unpredictable, said Johnston.
The crews have been doing a good job, said Coun. Terry Bernard, head of the public works committee.
"I'm not sure Mike [Redmond] would know a lot of the breakdowns and some of the challenges the crews have had to go through Having said that, I can't remember a time when we've had this much snow in this short a period of time," said Bernard.
Bernard said the city did decide to concentrate snow-clearing in church areas for Christmas services on Dec. 23, rather than downtown for last-minute shoppers.