New parking ban, more attention to residential roads proposed in city snow-clearing strategy

When Edmonton’s short summer gives way to bitter winter, transportation officials say snow plows should be hitting neighbourhood streets more often.

Edmonton city council will see the new proposal on Wednesday

Snow piles up in Churchill Square in Edmonton. (Craig Ryan/CBC)

When Edmonton's short summer gives way to bitter winter, transportation officials say snow plows should be hitting neighbourhood streets more often.

City transportation officials have pitched a new strategy to refresh the city's snow and ice clearing policy. It will be presented for information during Wednesday's council meeting.

The changes include roving parking bans and a greater focus on residential street maintenance, including culs-de-sac.

Gord Cebryk, deputy city manager of city operations, says the city needs to focus on improving snow clearing in residential neighbourhoods.

That was the biggest piece of public feedback the city received about this policy last winter, Cebryk said Friday.

"We'll be employing a continually proactive approach to snow removal instead of the more historically reactive approach, to improve the experience of Edmontonians," he said. 

Final recommendations are expected to be presented to council in the fall.

The proposed changes are expected to cost the city $25 million to $31 million more than the $60-million cost of the program outlined in the 2020 budget. There are also some long-term financial concerns, given the ongoing toll COVID-19 has taken on city revenues.

"Despite these impacts, winter will still arrive," Cebryk said. "And we must continue to plan and prepare to work within resource constraints where budgets, people and equipment are stretched. We need to do more with less, where possible." 

There is "no significant update" included in the report on the use of calcium chloride, which council voted against using last winter. Administration currently doesn't have any changes planned for the toolbox of materials they use to maintain city streets.

Under the current plan, blading begins on residential roads and alleys within 48 hours of the snowpack reaching blade level and should be completed within five days. 

The new plan proposes that blading begin after each large snowfall, regardless of snowpack level.

Culs-de-sac previously have been cleared separate from other snow and ice services on a priority basis, because they require specialized equipment.

"This can result in a disconnection between the clearing of a cul-de-sac and the road segment that leads into it," the report says.

The work is currently outsourced to city contractors as it can take four to six weeks of continuous work to clear all of Edmonton's 3,300 culs-de-sac. But there have been ongoing complaints about a lack of snow removal.

Now, under the proposed plan, culs-de-sac would be cleared at least three times each winter. 

"Administration is committed to improving this service experience," the report says.

City-wide, all-road parking ban

The report also says a city-wide, all-road parking ban is required while clearing crews are working.

The ban would apply across Edmonton on a rolling basis where crews are clearing, with parking allowed again once crews have completed a section of the road.

Under the proposal, parking bans would start during or after 10 or more centimetres of snow has accumulated, or when conditions in residential areas warrant a ban.

The report also includes a second, more costly option with more thorough, full snow removal. That would be designed to keep snow-free conditions throughout the winter season for users of all of the city's roads.