The city will be examining their snow removal system in an attempt to make better use of the equipment they already have rather after the results of a recent community survey came back showing the public wants them to do better, but not at the expense of raising taxes. Mirror File Photo

Survey: Snow clearing improvement needed – but not if it means more taxes

‘We have given direction to staff to take a look at how we can change our snow clearing system’ -Mayor

Eighty per cent of Campbell Riverites surveyed say the city is doing a poor or very poor job of snow removal.

After last winter’s record-breaking snowfall and the many snow-clearing (or rather “lack of snow clearing”) complaints from the public, council made the decision to seek some input from the community in the form of an online and telephone-based survey. The survey was open from Oct. 12 through Oct. 23 and garnered 534 online responses and 350 phone calls made by Discovery Research to randomly-selected residents.

While respondents overwhelmingly supported the order of priorities in the current snow removal policy – clearing the main arteries, emergency response routes and steep hills first before moving on to less-used roads and residential areas – the city’s overall snow removal operations were also rated as “poor” or “very poor” by a 80 per cent of online respondents. Approximately three quarters of respondents also rated both the “thoroughness” and “timeliness” of snow clearing as “poor” or “very poor.”

And it seems residents are okay with the city paying more to make improvements to the city’s snow removal procedure.

Seventy-six per cent of online respondents and 71 per cent of phone respondents said funding should be increased to cover the costs of clearing sidewalks along main routes and 74 per cent of online respondents, along with 65 per cent of phone respondents said funding should be increased to “secure additional resources that can clear residential streets sooner after a snowstorm.”

Fifty-nine per cent of online responses went so far as to say the city should buy snow removal equipment to be prepared for especially bad snowstorms, “even if that means that snow clearing equipment might be stored unused some years.”

Seventy-four per cent of online respondents also said the city should spend money to retain contractor services on standby for additional snow clearing support, as did 67 per cent of phone respondents.

It’s unclear, however, where respondents feel that increased funding should come from, because less than half of them said they would be okay with an increase on their taxes to make these things happen.

Mayor Andy Adams says the results of the survey will be taken into consideration moving forward, but there wasn’t much they could do going into this year’s budget deliberations to address the situation.

“We’re putting a work plan together,” Adams says. “Drew Hadfield, our transportation manager will take (the survey feedback) in, along with the little bit that we added in for the leasing of some equipment and a little bit for personnel, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed.”

The “little bit” Adams is referring to was the addition of $30,000 to next year’s budget to lease a piece of equipment to clear sidewalks along the major routes and transit stops, along with the additional staff hours to operate it. But there aren’t any new major pieces of equipment being considered, Adams says.

“We have given direction to staff to take a look at how we can change our snow clearing system,” Adams says. “What we need to consider is how to best utilize the equipment we’ve already got and maybe add in some temporary plows to compliment that equipment should they be needed,” Adams says.

“But it’s feast or famine,” he continues. “Are we going to get what we got last year? Is that going to become a regular occurrence? I think we’re comfortable enough about the fact that we’re working to get the building blocks in place should we have to deal with something like that again.”

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