March 2014 Newsletter
Hello Ward 14,
We are two Aldertalks into the new Council term, and so far it has been as successful as it ever was. In January we had the largest turnout yet, and in the smallest venue. About 50 people attended Parkland Hall, mostly to talk about an accumulating issue (but I will get to that later). On March 15th, I will be back at the Mid-Sun Community Centre (50 Midpark Rise S.E.) for another Aldertalk session. You can join me between noon and 2pm to get involved in the discussion.
Virtually everyone at the January Aldertalk came to speak about the condition of city streets caused by snowfall. The amount of snow Calgary received over the period of December 2nd to January 25th was, without a doubt, extreme. During December, 52.4cm of snow fell. It was an incredible amount compared with the 30 year average of 15cm. By January 25th, almost 70cm had fallen compared to the cumulative norm of about 30cm. The frequency of snow events, up to 74km/h winds, and freeze/thaw cycles made things worse. All of it overwhelmed a Snow and Ice Control system that was designed to efficiently handle much less snow.
The snow clearing plan traditionally used by the City of Calgary takes 7 days. Major roads are cleared within 24 hours of snow stopping, and access roads are cleared within 48 hours. Once they have been addressed, crews move to school and playground zones, hills, some residential roadways, steps, walks, and bus pads. Many residential streets are plowed on a complaint basis only, and the plan has never included snow removal, except in specific areas where there is no other option. ‘Flat-blading’ (where snow is cleared from the middle and pushed to the side) is the standard in residential areas.
Typically, the City spends $4.7M of its $34M annual Snow and Ice Control budget during December. During December 2013, $9.4M was spent. Contractors were hired to deal with residential areas while city crews dealt with snow piled up on major roads. Snow removal was enacted on some roads where there was no more room to put the accumulating snow.
Ambulances and tow-trucks getting stuck on our roads is not acceptable. But do we budget for the norm as we have been, or for the worst case scenario? Council has directed administration to review options for dealing with an extreme snow event. They will investigate the level of service and costs in other cities, and additional standby resources like contractors, among other things. Their recommendations will be presented in July. So until then, why don’t you tell me what level of service you are willing to pay for, Ward 14? To get in touch, you can click this contact me link.