Red Deer City council voted in favour of accelerating snow removal in light of the snowstorm earlier this week.
“I support moving quickly. I don’t think we can continue with the residential areas as they are now,” said Craig Curtis, City manager.
The City has also enacted its Emergency Operations Committee to help deal with the heavy snowfall. Residential streets will be prioritized.
Plowing began Tuesday morning in a number of neighbourhoods and continued into Wednesday.
Residents are being notified of plowing in their area via the City’s automatic dialing system – it will show up as a 1-888 number on citizen’s phones. Residents with unlisted numbers are asked to keep an eye out for crews or to continue to watch for updates.
Red Deerians are also asked to be prepared to remove vehicles from residential roadways where possible as residential plowing and sanding will happen quickly.
Crews will be performing surface snow plowing and windrows will be placed on both sides of the street. Windrows will not exceed 16 inches in height.
Greg Sikora, manager of public works for the City, said the decision to accelerate the snow removal in residential areas comes with some disadvantages.
“There will be windrows on residential streets and we know that is a frustration for residents.”
As well, the roads will not be plowed to pavement level, but enough so that they are drivable and there will be no signage put on the roads to notify citizens the City will be plowing in their areas.
“Any vehicles not relocated as we are plowing will be plowed in. We just ask for any help citizens can give us in terms of making sure their vehicles are moved off the roads or even jockey them out of the way as the plows come through,” said Sikora.
The cost to plow the residential areas in five to seven days in the City is estimated to cost $100,000.
“It’s about timeless rather than quality. The focus is to get something done quickly,” said Paul Goranson, director of development services. “We are going to exceed three times the snowfall in Red Deer for this time of year. I know the public is frustrated and concerned but the staff out there is doing their best.”
Mayor Tara Veer said the emergency residential plow is about the safety of citizens.
“I think ultimately what council is faced with right now is a choice between safety and a choice between inconvenience. Given the fact that we are in an extreme weather circumstance I don’t think we have many options in front of us. We have emergency vehicles that need to get through, residents that need to get to and from home and busses that have to get through.”
During Monday’s City council meeting, councillors expressed concern over the current Snow and Ice Policy.
Councillor Lynne Mulder said it is time for council to take a look at possibly increasing the budget for snow removal.
“There are some residents that have said to me they would be in favour of their taxes going up if it meant that we had more snow removal,” she said. “I think we need to look at our options and maybe there is no better time than the operating budget.”
Councillor Lawrence Lee agreed.
“I would suggest the reason we are here is because we probably could have done things a little bit differently and we should take this as a learning opportunity of how we have done things in the past,” he said.
In addition, Councillors Tanya Handley and Ken Johnston put forward a joint Notice of Motion that a report regarding the City’s Snow and Ice Policy be brought back in conjunction with the upcoming operating budget in January.