London

Can London step up its snow removal plan? There are options says one councillor

Saying the city is taking too long to clear residential streets after a snow storm, Ward 2 Coun. Shawn Lewis wants city staff to come up some options, and the budget impact, of stepping up their snow removal.

'Residential streets are ignored or left way too long,' says Ward 2 councillor Shawn Lewis

Coun. Shawn Lewis said the most common complaint about snow clearing is that residential streets aren't cleared quick enough after a major storm. (Don Purchase/ City of London Roadside Operations Manager )

Even while slugging through some hot, humid days going door-to-door on the campaign trail, Ward 2 Coun. Shawn Lewis says London voters wanted to talk about snow. 

Specifically, snow clearing. More specifically, better clearing on residential streets. 

The common question: Why does it take so long to clear my street?

"In general, they feel like the main streets are taken care of, but the residential streets are ignored or left way too long," said Lewis. "For it to be 72 hours before a plow shows up? It's not good enough." 

Lewis is asking staff to take a close look at London's snow clearing plan with an eye to improving the process.

On the menu of options Lewis is looking at: 

  • Lowering the snowfall threshold for when the city starts plowing residential streets. Right now, it's 10 centimetres. Lewis says during a heavy storm that stretches over a few days, the plows can wait too long to get started and fall behind. He wants to know the budget impact of getting started when eight, or even five, centimetres are on the ground. 
     
  • Lowering the sidewalk clearing threshold which is currently eight centimetres. Lewis also wants to see how much it would help if residents were asked to clear their own sidewalks.  
     
  • Making sidewalk clearing near schools a priority. "For little kids ... walking to school can be a big challenge when the snow isn't cleared."
     
  • Possible equipment upgrades and purchases. "I realize we may need to buy more plows if we're going to meet these standards, if that's the case, how much do we need?"

Of course, faster and more frequent snow clearing costs more and Lewis wants staff to price out all the options as the city launches into a new three-year budget process. 

"I think in a billion-dollar budget like the city of London's, adding in an extra million, million and a half for better snow clearing is something that we can hopefully offset with savings elsewhere but I think it's something that citizens want to see as a priority." 

Lewis says he's hoping to see some numbers from staff in the spring. 

"We want to do what we can within reasonable budget limitations to get the job done," he said.

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