Thumbs down from council on snow-clearing exemption

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Residents of a southwest Slave Lake cul-de-sac will have to find something else to do with their driveway snow this winter. The snow has been finding its way into a nearby park for years, but the town wants that to stop.

People aren’t happy about the situation, and were letting mayor Tyler Warman know about it after last week’s minor snowfall. So Warman added it to the agenda of council’s Oct. 15 meeting. What was proposed was an exemption to the snow-clearing rules for that particular location.

Warman introduced the topic, explaining that for years a resident has been removing the snow and putting it in a nearby empty space. That space, as it happens, is now Barton Park, which the town has recently invested a lot of money in bringing up to ‘quadrant park’ status.

It’s against the town bylaw in any case to pile your snow on anybody’s property but your own, with the one exception being in the downtown area.

In this case, apparently nobody much cared about what was going on, but in the past couple of years, town staff has “started to push back,” council heard. The pushback involves the installation of a post in the walkway into Barton Park, preventing the passage of vehicles. This has provoked a reaction from the residents, who say it has been working all this time, so why the fuss now?

Warman kicked things off by making a motion to grant the exemption in this one case and invited discussion on it. Councillor Joy McGregor got it started and was clearly not impressed.

“Will all (cul-de-sacs) become exempt?” she asked.

Councillor Rebecca King was in the same camp.

“We have rules for a reason,” she said. “I’m going to stand by our bylaw.”

McGregor wanted to know why the matter is coming up now if it’s been going on for years.

“We put $200,000 into this park,” said councillor Darin Busk. “That’s been the major change.”

Generally speaking the rules regarding snow storage in cul-de-sac ‘bulbs’ are already more relaxed than they are elsewhere. Since property frontage is quite small in those spaces, the town piles the snow from street-clearing in the middle of the bulb, for later removal by the town. Residents have been adding their driveway snow to that pile, which is not strictly speaking allowed. It happens in similar situations around town.

It’s undoubtedly the case that the removal of the pile in the middle of the bulb doesn’t happen often enough – especially when there’s been a lot of snow. But hauling snow is expensive, and the town budgets only so much for it.

The difficulty and inconvenience is acknowledged and there was some sympathy expressed.

“Is there an option for them to put the snow somewhere else?” asked councillor Shawn Gramlich.

“No frontage,” said Busk. “Where do you put it?”

There are the front lawns, about which mayor Warman made the following observation: “There’s a difference between making an effort to put some on lawns and making no effort,” he said. “To say there is nowhere else to put the snow is not correct.”

Gramlich: “It worked for 20 years and now it doesn’t?”

Busk: “Twenty years ago we didn’t invest $200,000 in that park.”

The motion was defeated by unanimous vote.

The post that prevents vechicular access to Barton Park.

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