Ice-clogged streets turn Riverside South into 'war zone,' residents complain

As Ottawa prepares to receive yet another major dump of snow Tuesday, residents of one suburb in particular are fearful their streets are about to become impassable.

Tuesday's snow storm likely to make things worse

Cars bump along ice-covered streets in this Riverside South subdivision. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

As Ottawa braces for yet another major dump of snow Tuesday, residents of one suburb in particular are fearful their streets are about to become impassable.

People living in Riverside South complain surface conditions in their neighbourhood are already so poor, driving is difficult and walking treacherous.

I know it's been a bad winter, but the plowing for the city this year has just been terrible.- Pascal Ribot, resident and deliver driver

"They're shocking. They're not even disgraceful anymore, they're shocking," Ardmore Street resident Susan Richardson said Monday.

"I feel like I'm in a war zone every time I come back into my neighbourhood. It's depressing."

People who live in Riverside South say roads haven't been maintained and now it's "impossible to drive." 0:57

Pascal Ribot, who lives in the neighbourhood and also drives a delivery truck there, said the icy, bumpy are the worst he's seen in 15 years. 

"They haven't been maintained, they haven't been plowed, there is ice everywhere," Ribot said. "I know it's been a bad winter, but the plowing for the city this year has just been terrible."

Susan Richardson says the state of the streets near her house are 'shocking.' (Robyn Miller/CBC)

Standards tested

Ottawa has approved snow-clearing standards dictating how soon after a snowfall crews are supposed to be out clearing streets and sidewalks, with major roads, arterials and major collectors given priority over most residential streets.

But when storms hit in rapid succession, the snow and ice can pile up — especially in neighbourhoods like Riverside South.

"It's a long, long process to get to all of them. This again has been a difficult year," said Luc Gagné, Ottawa's director of roads and parking services.

Gagné said city crews will continue to clear residential roads after they've dealt with this latest bout of snow on major routes.

Resident and delivery driver Pascal Ribot says some of the ruts he encounters are up to 60 centimetres deep. (Robyn Miller/CBC )

Coun. Carol Anne Meehan, whose ward includes Riverside South, said the city needs to take a hard look at what it spends on snow removal.

"We hear this story every year. People are not happy. We used to surpass our standards. We don't do that anymore," Meehan said.

How do you rate the snow removal in Ottawa this year? We get a response from two councillors. 7:01

The city has posted a snow maintenance deficit — sometimes in the tens of millions of dollars — 10 winters out of the past 12, and it looks like this year will follow that trend.

The 2019 draft budget tabled at council last week calls for an increase of $2.4 million to the snow budget, for a total of $70.8 million. But that's still less than the city has spent in each of the past three years.

Add to that January's record snowfall — 124 centimetres — and the massive dump coming Tuesday, and it appears that budget will again be blown.

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