Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's plans to beef up snowclearing operations

After listening to suggestions from residents and stakeholders, the city plans to change the way it clears snow.
City council plans to hire an eight-person crew that will deal solely with the clearing of sidewalks. (CBC)

The City of St. John's is moving ahead with plans to beef up snowclearing operations and winter maintenance.

The city was bombarded with complaints last year that it did a poor job of handling snowclearing during the harsh winter. 

As a result of the complaints, the city reviewed its strategy of how it deals with removing snow by reaching out to the public community groups to hear what they had to say.

The result is the Winter Operations Review, which was released to the public on Monday.

The document outlines how the city plans to deal with snow and ice control, as well as snowclearing and fleet operations.

The city is spending $1.65 million more on snowclearing, which is on top of about $15 million budgeted last year.

The city says the increased spending won't result in higher taxes, but will come from the municipality's current general funds.

Besides the increased budget, the report includes a number of key recommendations for dealing with the snow.

Some of them are the inclusion of an eight-person crew that will deal solely with the clearing of sidewalks, hiring more trucks and crews to clear snow, and investing more time and money to properly train staff.

St. John's City Councillor Jonathan Galgay is Chair of the Public Works Committee for the city.

He said the plan for the new sidewalk clearing crew goes well beyond the pilot project launched in previous years.

We will be prepared," said Galgay.

"We met with our staff today and we're ready to roll out the recommendation as quickly as possible."

Some of the other things the city is looking at include changing the rules regarding the winter parking ban and possibly extending the snowclearing season by two weeks, one at the start of the season and one at the end.

This comes after many St. John's residents complained last year that operations were halted too early, said Galgay .

"We openly admit that we could have done things differently."

"This is the people's report. It's exactly what they've asked for, and council is committed to working with residents of the city to ensure that we are held accountable."

The council voted Monday afternoon on the new snowclearing plan and only one councillor, Wally Collins, voted against it.

A more detailed report on snowclearing is due in November and members will have to vote on those recommendations once they're brought before the council.

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