Calgary digs itself out after forecast of 25 cm of snow this week

Calgarians are digging themselves out of another round of snow this week and colder temperatures means slippery sidewalks and slower commutes.

Don't put away the shovels just yet

As the snowfall tapers off, the shovels are coming out in communities across the city. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Calgarians are digging themselves out of another round of snow this week, and colder temperatures mean slippery sidewalks and slower commutes.

However, citizens say they're not going to complain too much about the snowfall and the constant clearing of sidewalks.

"It's Calgary in winter," said Kim Ritter. "What else can we expect?"

According to Environment Canada, snowfall accumulations across the city this week ranged from 10 to 25 centimetres. The snow is ending but temperatures will remain below freezing until Sunday.

Calgary Roads spokesperson Chris McGeachy says crews are on a 24/7 schedule to take care of the snowy roadways.

The sidewalks on this Calgary street were clear this week, shovelled by area residents, but the crosswalks at the intersections were covered in a thick layer of ice. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

"Right now, crews are focused on Priority 1 routes, so those are your high volume, 20,000 or more vehicles [a day] routes like Crowchild Trail and Glenmore Trail," he said.

McGeachy says the city's annual snow budget for clearing roadways is $38.6 million, and estimates that a typical snow event costs between $750,000 and $1.5 million for operations.

"That being said, we don't really anticipate that we're going to run into too many budget issues. We run a pretty lean program," he said. 

City spokesperson Chris McGeachy says it's been a busy week for crews as they focus on major routes before working down their priority list. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

McGeachy explains the city has a seven-day plan on getting streets cleared and that once they finish high-volume roads, they move on to connector routes and then into residential areas.

"We're getting into more of the winter-style events where we're seeing snow on the roadway," he said. "Our crews are out there putting material on the road to to help accelerate melting and improve traction."

However, the Calgary Police Service reported 85 collisions across the city between midnight and 11:30 a.m. on Thursday and another 69 on Wednesday.

McGeachy reminds drivers that some areas are still slick and to drive according to winter conditions.

"We're in the winter weather so let's just stay safe on the road out there," he said.

"You know, accelerate and decelerate slowly, and the key one is leave plenty of time to get to where you need to go."

Shovel your sidewalks

Casey Clark, a worker for Superyards, a lawn care and snow removal company, says this week has been busier than usual and that employees have been working eight to nine hours a day.

"The conditions throughout the past month have been pretty icy," he said. "Dealing with the temperatures warming during the day and then freezing overnight, we're seeing quite a bit of ice buildup."

Clark says accumulation of the snow builds up throughout the day.

"You get one area cleared and then you have to come back to it almost immediately after or the next day," he said.

Casey Clark of Superyards says conditions throughout the past few weeks have been icy because of the range of temperatures. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

McGeachy says there are over 50,500 kilometres of sidewalk in Calgary and that the city is responsible for only about 10 per cent.

"Most of the sidewalks are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner or occupant," he said. "The message is get out there, shovel your sidewalk and make sure it's clear."

About the Author

Natalie Valleau is a journalist with CBC News. She grew up in Okotoks, Alta. and completed her undergrad at Mount Royal University and Masters of Journalism and Communications at Western University.

With files from Dave Gilson


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