July 12th, 2024

Council approves snow removal pilot project

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on July 10, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge city council on Tuesday approved a pilot program for snow and ice removal that was recommended by its Governance Standing Policy Committee in June.

On a trial basis for the upcoming winter, the City will be doing plowing to the right with a windrow subscription service for those who can’t clear snow from driveways or curbs themselves.

The service is open to residents who live along snow routes and have challenges clearing snow.

Council approved the recommendation in a vote on its consent agenda.

A report presented to the SPC in June stated that for every snow event it’s 25 times cheaper to plow snow to the right rather than remove it.

In a media release, Transportation Operations manager Julianne Ruck said “since we started plowing snow to the right along snow routes, residents who face mobility or accessibility challenges have had a hard time navigating the windrow at the end of their driveway or curb. The pilot subscription helps to provide a clearing so these residents can have access to their property if they can’t remove the snow themselves.”

Eligible residents will be notified by the City in the fall with postcards to be hand-delivered to each home on a snow route which outline program details and how to sign up for the service. Residents can’t sign up for the service until they get the information.

In the release, mayor Blaine Hyggen says the pilot program provides a balance between meeting the needs of affected residents and keeping the financial gains made by adjusting snow-clearing service levels.

“We heard loud and clear from residents along snow routes this past winter that for some, particularly seniors, having a build-up of snow at the end of the driveway was difficult to deal with. This pilot program will offer a way to help those who need it, while ensuring we still see some cost-savings with continuing to plow snow to the right of the road,” said the mayor.

Before 2022, the City plowed snow along about 205 kilometres of road. When plows made it to residential areas, snow was pushed to the centre of streets and roads and removed.

Following changes, an additional 81 kms are being cleared, including residential roads that were previously plowed only rarely.

Plowing to the right, rather than putting the snow in windrows and removing it saves about $500,000 every time a significant snowfall hits the city.

“We know residents and businesses who reside on a snow route are faced with the inconvenience of shoveling more snow a few times per season. But we also want to maintain fiscal responsibility for all taxpayers, while continuing to clear as many roads as possible,” said Ruck in the release.

After the next winter season, the City will seek feedback from residents who utilized the subscription service with the findings to be reported to council to review.

A PowerPoint presentation shown to the SPC stated that plowing costs $258 per kilometre making it more cost efficient than snow removal which costs $6,766 per km.

The top four driveway and parking lane issues with residents were:

1, Windrows along curbs created a barrier to accessing sidewalks.

2. Parking lanes were not cleared well enough when vehicles were not moved.

3. Windrows were challenging to remove.

4. Their driveway was inaccessible due to windrows.

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