Who are the morons, idiots, losers, [insert other pejorative term here] that approved this new snow plan? Well, I'm one of them. And I'm going to vote to continue this plan on Tuesday. This post will tell you why.
Let me start by saying thank you to everyone who gave feedback on our snow removal plans. I received many Facebook posts, emails, tweets and phone calls with your input. It was also the hot topic at holiday parties this year and I spent many a moment conversing about the intricacies of snow removal.
After taking this input into account and evaluating the data from our Transportation department, I have decided that I will be supporting the new "blitz" snow removal policy for the rest of the season. Here are the reasons why:
Under the blitz method of snow removal, we are able to have every residential street done in 5 days. Under the old plan, it takes anywhere from 36 to 48 days with this much snow. Quite frankly, clearing out the driveway of every one of the 22,000+ dwellings in GP is a tedious, slow going process. Additionally, the longer the snow sits and gets compacted, the longer it takes to remove, thus compounding the problem.
Having roads impassable for weeks on end is unacceptable. People need to get to work, ambulances need to get to homes, and garbage needs to be removed. Simply put, the new plan allows for us to be much quicker with making the roads passable.
The new plan allows for us to more accurately say where crews are going to be on any given day. We can develop a 5 day schedule which could say that on Day 1 of residential snow removal, our crews will be in x, y, and z neighbourhoods. Day 2 we'll be in a, b, and c. And so on. This will help with getting vehicles off the road as there will be a predictable schedule.
The cost of one complete residential snow removal rotation under the old plan is between $500,000-$700,000.
The cost of one rotation under the blitz method is around $130,000.
In other words, we could do 5 rotations under the new plan for the same cost as 1 under the old.
What are the Cons?
The main con under this new plan is that residents are responsible for clearing out the windrows in front of their driveways. This can create serious challenges for seniors or residents with disabilities. This is why we've set up a hotline (780-538-0354 ext. 3) for residents to call should they require assistance with clearing. We will have to develop a policy to establish the program more formally.
I understand there are people who think I'm a "moron" or any other number of names that have come my way because of my support for this plan. Hopefully this post gives insight into my rationale for supporting it. There's always room for improvement though, so please continue sharing your thoughts with me.
I've found the people who have shown the greatest support for this new plan are those from out east where they experience much greater snowfalls and where this type of snow removal is the norm. I've researched dozens of snow removal policies over the last few weeks and have come to the conclusion that our current policy is highly inefficient when it comes to dealing with the great snowfalls we've been receiving.
While GP's long-term annual average snowfall is 158 cms, our average over the last 5 years has been 212 cms. I'm no weather expert, but it seems to me that we should be adjusting our policies to account for snowfalls more akin to what is received out east. On that note, I believe now is the time to change our policies and as such I will be voting in favour at Tuesday's meeting.
You can read Transportation manager Robert Carroll's report on the two plans here.
Odds and Ends
Several people have shared this video of a gate attachment for graders that could hold back snow over driveways. The City bought a couple of these a while ago and found that they work great in rural areas, but that they do not work very good in residential streets with driveways fairly close to one another. Apparently the gate gets clogged with snow way too often slowing down the process dramatically.