Fewer complaints about plowing, snow-clearing in Sudbury, councillors say

City councillors in Greater Sudbury say they're getting less complaints this winter about the state of the roads, compared to last year.

City staff to compile report on ice-breaking attachment for sidewalk plows

Sudbury city councillors say they've heard fewer complaints from residents this winter than last, regarding winter control operations in the city, like plowing, and snow clearing. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

City councillors in Greater Sudbury say fewer residents are complaining about plowing and snow removal this year.

"I have noticed a drastic drop in the number of complaints over the winter road maintenance," city councillor Robert Kirwan said. He maintains a large Facebook group for Valley East, which allows residents to post comments about city services.

"It has improved immensely," he told the city's Operations Committee Monday afternoon. 

"It's not perfect, but [work crews] are doing an amazing job."

"I think some of the enhanced service that some of the residents are commenting on may be attributed to the fact that we have staff available to respond quickly," general manager of growth and infrastructure, Tony Cecutti said.

The city has added more permanent staff to help with winter road maintenance, particularly on weekends.

"I think that the additional workforce is allowing us to address things in a more timely manner than might have been available in previous years," he said.

Cecutti also mentioned the effort underway to help residents realize the actual service delivery versus expectations.

"[There is] a lot better effort helping people understand what [the city is] supposed to deliver," he said.

There have also been conversations with contractors who provide some of the winter road work.

"Reviewing our tenders that went out we did review them slightly to be able to provide more timely and responsive service as well through our contract partnerships," Cecutti said.

In this video below, crews test out the ice-breaking attachment on a sidewalk plow.

The City of Greater Sudbury is considering using this ice-breaking attachment on its sidewalk plows. 0:19

"Not only have the complaints been reduced dramatically in the last few months, I've also been getting complimentary emails from residents saying it's much better. So I think that these things — these changes to our workforce have been very helpful," chair of the Operations Committee, Deb McIntosh said.

Despite fewer complaint calls about the state of the roads, some councillors, like Geoff McCausland, say they're still hearing about sidewalk safety problems.

"I'm very encouraged by the videos that you've shown of this new attachment for our municipal tractors," McCausland said referring to the short video shown by manager of linear infrastructure, Randy Halverson focusing on an ice-breaking attachment staff tried out on one downtown street recently.

Halverson told councillors the attachment would cost roughly $25,000 and he would like to see a pilot project during the winter of 2020-2021 to trial the equipment.

"This is definitely a service level change," he told councillors.

A motion from councillor McCausland was passed asking staff to seek out costing and compile a report on the use of an ice-breaking attachment for clearing sidewalks in Greater Sudbury.

"This looks like it might be that solution for our sidewalks to ensure that they can be safe throughout the winter months," McCausland said.

During the meeting, Halverson presented councillors with the overall winter maintenance activities for the entire 2019 winter control season, including financial results. He said that due to several challenges, particularly due to the harsh winter weather from earlier in the year, there was an estimated $6.1 million deficit in winter roads operations.

With files from Angela Gemmill


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