Edmonton

On a hot summer day, Edmonton sets ambitious new snow removal targets

Edmonton city councillors spent several hours on a hot summer Thursday talking about snow. They approved an ambitious new policy on snow and ice removal for the coming winter.

'The basis of this proposal is to push safety first, looking at dry and bare pavement'

Temporary parking bans on residential streets are part of a new snow and ice removal policy for Edmonton. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC)

With temperatures soaring into the high 20s, snow wasn't top of mind for most Edmontonians on Thursday, but city councillors spent several hours talking about the cold stuff as they approved an ambitious new policy on snow and ice removal for the coming winter.

"The basis of this proposal is to push safety first, looking at dry and bare pavement," Doug Jones, deputy city manager of operations. told council's community and public services committee.

The new plan includes spraying a calcium chloride solution on major roads instead of using sand.

The product is used in two ways, Jones told councillors.
'When using sand it's always a battle, trying to beat the snow,' says Doug Jones, city operations manager. (CBC)

"The anti-icer is used in advance of the storm and you use much less," he said.

"If the storm gets ahead of you or out of control, then you use it as a de-icer, attacking the problem from the top down, and you use a lot more."

The plan is for the city to use the spray primarily in advance of storms, he said.

A thin layer sprayed on roads keeps snow from sticking.

Any snow that does accumulate will break up more easily, making plowing more efficient, city staff said.

"When using sand it's always a battle, trying to beat the snow," said Jones.

The plan doesn't eliminate the city's use of sand on roadways, but could eventually cut its use substantially, he said.

The calcium chloride solution is commonly used in many other cities, and the province has been using it on Anthony Henday Drive with success, Jones told councillors.

Faster snow removal planned

Under the city's current practices, it can take up to 48 hours to clear snow from major roadways. 

The city wants to improve this, clearing major roads within 12 hours from the end of snowfall, and removing all snow from bus stop areas within 24 hours.

The new plan calls for sidewalks, trails and bike routes to be cleared to bare pavement within 24 hours from the end of snowfall. Currently, some snow is plowed off city sidewalks but much is left behind and packed onto the walkway.

No new equipment will be purchased to implement this plan and city staff should be able to make these changes and stay within the snow removal budget, said Jones.

No support for winter-long parkng bans

Changes are also proposed for snow removal in residential neighbourhoods. Anti-icers and plows will be used so that little snow remains on residential streets.

There is no public support for a winter-long parking ban in neighbourhoods, Gord Cebryk, branch manager, parks and roads services, told councillors.

However, there may be temporary bans in order for the city to clear neighbourhoods more quickly, he said.
"That is one of the things we'll continue to examine," said Cebryk.

City crews will undertake pilot projects this coming winter to determine if these removal techniques work, and aren't too costly.

The next update on the plan will come to the committee in December 2017 or January 2018.

Mayor Don Iveson is pleased with the new policy.

"If we can get better results from the same resources that would be a great thing," Iveson said.

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