Snow removal, it seems, is one of those things that is never perfected. But municipalities keep trying to do it better within limited budgets.
Take the Town of Slave Lake program. It got tweaked a bit recently, and on Nov. 14 town council made it official by approving the newest version of the snow-removal bylaw. The main change is to inclusion of ‘snow storage’ schedules. This refers to which side of the street snow is piled on when plowing. Presenting the report, community services director Ruth Rolfe said the practice of the town crews has been – for the most part – to alternate sides every year. However, it has never been formally prescribed in bylaw.
In general, the snow storage clause says one winter, the windrow will be on your side of the street; the next winter it will be on the other side, and so on. There are exceptions to this noted in the procedures. In cul de sacs, for example, the practice will continue to be to store snow in the middle of the ‘bulb,’ because there isn’t room around the edges. In other cases, where there is only a sidewalk on one side of a street, snow should be always stored on the other side. Judging by some comments, that may not always be happening.
Another anomaly is in the Springwood neighbourhood. Council heard that parking is allowed on only one side of certain streets. With the alternating sides snow storage practice, that means every other year there is nowhere to park legally – or at least it becomes very difficult.
Other questions came up. One was to clarify that property owners are responsible to clear the sidewalks in front of their property.
“How long do you have to do it?” asked councillor Joy McGregor.
“Twenty-four hours,” said Rolfe.
Further to that, Rolfe noted that the responsibility for clearing your sidewalk remains in effect until the plow puts up the first windrow on your side of the street. Knowing that it’s coming is no excuse for not keeping that sidewalk clear until it happens.
“Peace officers are developing ‘door-knockers,’ explaining your sidewalk needs to be cleared,” she said.