Revised snow and ice control policy approved

After much debate and a few compromises, City council has approved the new snow and ice control policy.

“When we undertook this review it was because we did some research and surveys and through a policy we’ve made some great improvements to sidewalks and trails but the biggest area of concern was residential and windrowing,” said Councillor Chris Stephan.

Stephan went on to quote a citizen email saying that snow removal is often already delayed. The citizen suggested that the policy’s target for residential snow clearing should be changed from 25 to 15 days.

City Manager Craig Curtis pointed out that in the last approved budget, council added dollars to snow and ice control making it possible to add equipment.

“The policy now reflects reality as opposed to presenting goals that cannot be achieved. We’re putting in a policy that is workable. It is a compromise just like all areas are,” said Curtis.

Councillor Dianne Wyntjes said she often wishes she had a crystal ball, as snow and ice control is more dependent on the weather than any other factor.

“It’s really important that we don’t put our targets so high we simply can’t meet them,” said Wyntjes.

Councillor Tara Veer said the part of the policy that she does like is that there is no compromise on major arterial roadways or high collision intersections.

Greg Sikora, public works manager, said there is a fine balance between the equipment available and the operators.

In the policy it appears there was some change to the maintenance of high collision intersections, but Sikora explained that it is simply a change in label.

“The reality is that we have been addressing these intersections immediately just in the form of sanding and traction control.”

Sikora went on to explain that the change from priority one to two simply allows more time to maintain them, but that they will still see attention as they have in the past.

“This policy does reflect reality for us and reflects the direction that we would like to move, we’re inching along to get to a better place,” said Councillor Cindy Jefferies.

Jefferies added that the policy is good because it lays out what citizens can expect from the City.

“It’s not that we wait 40 days to start ploughing, it takes 40 days to get around the entire route. If you happen to be near the end of the route you suffer versus those at the beginning of the route.”

Jefferies also pointed out that the route is rotated so that the same communities are not always first or last.

“It just doesn’t matter how much money we throw at things. In really bad weather sometimes Mother Nature just isn’t working with us.”

The policy addresses the City’s desire to see transit routes and stops better maintained and Jefferies said this is a step in the right direction as it promotes the use of public transit.

Council had also previously discussed their vision of seeing the sidewalks and trails better maintained as a way to make Red Deer more “walkable” and that is addressed in the policy as well.

“This policy includes reference to trail clearing which has received so much positive feedback from residents,” said Veer.

Council approved the policy with Chris Stephan opposed.