October 3, 2013 - 9:36pmUpdated: April 5, 2016 - 10:17am
Mud coats snow at Regina snow storage site July 3 2013. Courtney Mintenko/CJME
The snow at the City of Regina’s dump site has yet to melt away, but members of the Public Works Committee have already begun planning for this winter’s wrath.
A report from manager of winter operations Chris Warren was filed at a meeting Thursday evening highlighting some of the successes and failures of last year, and giving insight to possible policy changes in the future.
The biggest challenge, obviously, was the sheer volume of snow from last year, but the report said another challenge comes with the growth the Queen City has seen in the last few years. Roadways in some of the new areas have not been built wide enough. Any street less than 11 metres (just over 36 ft.) is supposed to have ‘No Parking’ signs along one side to ensure that plow and emergency services can safely get down the road. But Warren said the signs have yet to go up.
“That would be something that would be our Infrastructure and Planning Department so I can’t really comment on that,” Warren said when asked why the signs aren’t there, adding that narrow streets are just one of many challenges that they face. He said he’s been in talks with the planning department to get the signs erected.
In fact, parked vehicles on roadways are a challenge in itself. Warren said the inconvenience of cars parked on roads being plowed is two-fold.
“You have to go around obstacles. And number two, you’re causing an inconvenience to the parked vehicle as well,” said Warren. “That’s why, in our report, we put forward some information on what some other municipalities are doing in terms of parking bans and parking enforcement. And we’re hoping that we can move forward on trying to advance that in the future.”
Warren said that could mean permanent snow routes or temporary parking bans after snowfalls.
City of Regina Public Works committee discusses report on snow removal budget. Aaron Stuckel/CJME
The report also lists rutting on residential roads as a sticking point in their winter operations. It describes each plow as “a balance of enhancing driving conditions as well as minimizing the height and width of snow ridges.” The city will only plow residential roads on two occasions: when there is enough time or when ruts get deeper than 10 cm. The problem is that plowing those residential roads every time makes for large banks of snow on residential streets that the city doesn’t remove.
“The policy doesn’t have any stipulations in it for removing snow on residential roads,” said Warren.
And it’s unlikely that the policy could change. With the current winter maintenance budget already $900,000 over budget, the cost of doubling the amount of snow removal done by snow crews would likely be too high.
“It would cost approximately $1.6 million to remove snow in residential areas,” said Warren, though the report quotes that amount at closer to $1.7 million.
The report also analyzed response times to storms and how quickly plow cleared the streets. Out of 9 “snow events” Category 1 roads—the main arteries like Albert and Broad Streets—were consistently cleared on time. But in the other three categories, the response time was only met 50 per cent of the time or less.
“We always strive to maintain our timelines because that’s what is stated in the policy, but there are going to be challenges,” said Warren.
He added that they changed their strategies later in the season so that Category 3 and 4 roads in close proximity to those of higher priority were cleared early making it easier to keep up. He said changes like that are why the hand in the report every year.
“It’s something that we do annually in hopes of improving and learning from our experience,” he said.
The report will now be taken to city council for consideration.