City council is turning to the community for guidance on the level of snow clearing residents would like to see in winter.
Last winter’s snowfall, which broke Campbell River weather records, prompted council to ask city staff for a review of the City of Campbell River’s Winter Road Management Policy.
Coun. Larry Samson said in looking over the policy, council made the decision to take the snow clearing policy to the public.
“Council was united in that there had to be some type of public feedback or engagement of what the public would like to see and the cost ramifications of the level of service,” Samson said.
Just what form that public consultation will take is currently under consideration. Samson said one of the issues he personally has with the current policy is the lack of commitment from the city to clear sidewalks, an issue he has tried to tackle for years while on city council.
“There is a significant amount of our population that doesn’t drive, it could be because of a disability, a lifestyle decision or economics – some people may only have one car – there are a number of reasons people choose not to drive and then they’re walking on the road,” said Samson, adding he saw a lady, who was walking down Dogwood because snow was piled so high on the sidewalk, almost get hit by a vehicle last year.
Under the city’s snow policy, residents are requested, but not required, to clear snow from the sidewalks along their property.
Owners or tenants of all commercial, industrial or institutional premises, however, must clear snow and ice from the sidewalks along their premises by 10 a.m. the next day following a snowfall. Owners and managers of all multi-unit residential premises are bound by the same rules.
But Drew Hadfield, the city’s transportation manager, said while the city clears sidewalks adjacent to city properties, it does not plow sidewalks around the city because of the cost to purchase the proper equipment needed to do so.
“Removal of snow on the sidewalks by city staff/resource would result in significant cost increases for equipment and staff time,” Hadfield said. “In addition to that, using machinery to remove snow on sidewalks can result in significant property damage to fronting properties.”
Samson, though, said his belief is that the cost is worth it, but added it’s not his intention to have the city start clearing every single sidewalk in the community.
“There’s been talk among council, should we clear the priority routes like Dogwood, Alder and Hilchey, the high priority streets where you see a significant number of transit riders,” he said.
“I think of these people with disabilities, they can’t drive, and the seniors – they’re an important part of our community and to say we’re not going to clear the sidewalks and leave them on their own, to me is not being an inclusive community,” Samson added.
Adding to the problem is the fact that the city plows snow from the street onto the sidewalk.
Hadfield admits in a report to council that “snow removal practises create a conflict between the plowed snow and clear sidewalks.” He said there are other methods but they are costly.
The city, in years past, used to plow snow to the middle of the road but that created its own share of problems.
“In order to provide sidewalks without plowed snow on them, it would result in reduced driving lanes and no on street parking,” Hadfield said.
But what does the public think? That’s what council wants to know and Samson said he hopes the community will get involved.
“We are starting to look at the different repercussions of climate change and one of them is, ‘are these types of snowfalls (like the one we experienced last winter) going to become more and more frequent?’”
The city’s Snow and Ice Management Policy was last updated in 2010. The policy outlines a defined level of service, with a goal of providing safe use of the street during the winter months.
Snow clearing is based on a priority system, focusing on the primary roadways first such as Dogwood, Highway 19A, and Alder Street, emergency access (hospital, fire hall and RCMP), and transit routes.