Councillor Jeff Leiper wants late night street sweeping changes

An Ottawa councillor wants the City of Ottawa to consider changing its street sweeping system to cut back on the number of noisy, late-night visits.

No parking signs mean some streets are swept once, but others get multiple passes

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper says he wants city staff to look into changing the way street sweeping happens in his ward. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)
Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper wants City of Ottawa staff to review the policy of spring street cleaning, saying he's received dozens of complaints from residents who say road sweeping is excessive and often happens too late at night.

"I don't know if it's an exaggeration or not but we've heard, you know, 'Fifteenth time someone's gone down the street, sixteenth time," Leiper said.

A street sweeping vehicle works its way down a street near Tunney's Pasture in Ottawa. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)

The five week, $3 million annual road cleaning is carried out to remove grit and sand the city uses during winter snow operations and debris that could be a safety hazard to road users.

A fleet of 90 sweeping trucks, almost all contracted from private operators, clean all hard-surfaced roads in the city at least once.

Some roads need multiple passes to remove all the dirt. 

Not all streets swept the same way

Downtown roads and those in the Glebe, Vanier and the ByWard Market get what the city calls "concentrated service" due to the high volume of on-street parking.  

That means staff put out no parking signs and violators are towed away so the sweeping trucks only need to make one pass on the street between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.  

But on roads outside the city core, staff don't put up no parking signs so sweeper trucks have to pass over the same streets multiple times to work around parked vehicles — and that work is best done late at night.

Leiper said that's what's happening in neighbourhoods in his ward like Westboro and the area around the Civic campus of the Ottawa Hospital.

He says neighbours are fed up, so he's asking city staff to review the policy of street sweeping to see if roads in his ward can get the same service afforded those in the core.  

"I'm wondering what the balance is between the additional cost of having that concentrated sweeping, getting the signage out and then removing it, versus the cost of having our trucks go back and forth and back and forth and back and forth," he said.

City: concerns are valid

Bryden Denyes, area manager of core roads for the city, said the core streets need concentrated street sweeping because of the high volume of vehicles parked on the roads.
Bryden Denyes is area manager of core roads for the City of Ottawa.

Denyes acknowledges the frustration that some residents outside the core area have because the sweeping trucks pass by their homes many times.  

"We do receive complaints, yes, people are unhappy that we do it at night,"  he said.
"It's hard with a city this large to make everyone happy, some are valid concerns and we definitely listen to those concerns."

Some Ottawa residents turned to social media earlier this week asking Ottawa's mayor why their streets didn't get "no parking" signs after sweeping trucks had gone by over and over again.  

Jim Watson chimed in on Twitter while on a busy trade mission to India asking a senior city manager to "get this nonsense stopped right away and ask why!"