“Desperate” snow situation nearing crisis levels

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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The city is currently having a “major issue with snow,” Mayor Greg Dionne said -- an issue that will require residents’ patience and understanding. 

Good Samaritans were out to challenge the aftermath of Sunday's wallop of snow. This SUV began to spin out on Central Avenue around noon on Monday. Within seconds two men who had just parked their own vehicle, ran into the road and began to push. However, the car thoroughly mired and they could not quite budge it, but with 30 seconds two more pedestrians saw the struggling SUV and leaped to the aid of the other two men. The vehicle was freed and a good deed was done with a little laughter and a lot of muscle. 

The city is currently having a “major issue with snow,” Mayor Greg Dionne said -- an issue that will require residents’ patience and understanding.

“We are soon going to be in an emergency situation with our snowfall,” Dionne said during Monday’s city council meeting. “If we get another 10 cm ... to 20 cm of snow, it is going to be a major issue for our community.”

With The Weather Network predicting scattered flurries on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, things aren’t shaping up in the area’s favour.  

So that residents understand how “desperate” the situation is, Dionne said that if the city gets one more large snowfall, city crews will look at closing one side of the streets, either odd or even, and pushing snow there -- one of many measures council will soon consider.

Within the next two weeks, city manager Robert Cotterill said that snow removal/plowing alternatives and the costs associated with different methods will be brought forward to council.

“Removing it is just not cost-efficient,” Dionne said. “We do not have enough loaders and dump trucks to remove the snow that we have accumulated.”

The city’s limited snow removal capacity is being dispatched to flood areas to help mitigate spring flooding, which could be significant if there’s a quick thaw, he said.

Having recently fielded a few phone calls about graders leaving ridges in residents’ driveways, Dionne said that every effort will be made to prevent this, but that it’s to some degree unavoidable.

We are soon going to be in an emergency situation with our snowfall. If we get another 10 cm ... to 20 cm of snow, it is going to be a major issue for our community. Mayor Greg Dionne

“Unfortunately, we have to employ contractors to help us with such a large snowfall, and they do not have gates on their plows, so some will be snowed in,” he said. “We are going to inconvenience people with the pushing of the snow. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do.”

Public Works director Colin Innes said that city crews have been working overtime to remove snow in a timely manner.

“What we’ve had to do is respond to the events and to ensure you’re getting adequate cleaning,” he said after Monday’s meeting.

Sometimes -- such as on Sunday morning -- this has meant crews coming in at 3 a.m. to begin clearing snow.

“I don’t know if it’s the busiest on record, but it’s one of our busier years here,” he said, adding that the biggest snow hit usually takes place in March.

“We’re sure a long way from March, yet,” he added, raising his eyebrows with a wary glance.

Crews take on business districts first, moving into residential areas after 9 a.m., after which time more people have gone to work. Taking the central business district as an example, it’s not feasible to do work in certain commercial areas during the day, he said.

Dionne said that the public will be kept up to date through the media as decisions are made.

“We’re going to have a plan within the next … two weeks that we are going to publicize to the general public, after council’s had a chance to review it.”

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Recent comments

  • TamiK
    January 29, 2013 - 07:06

    I think the graders have really been doing a fantastic job, in cold weather and long hours. I hate it piled up on the sidewalk that I have tried to keep clean but I honestly see no alternative to that either. I think they are all trying to do the best job they can and I appreciate it, as well as all the residents that have been sorely taxed to keep walkways clean. The paper carriers, postal workers, students and pedestrians sure appreciate it.

  • Tim
    January 29, 2013 - 00:07

    City is doing a good job considering the amount of snow we have. Go to Saskatoon if you want to see what poor snow removal is.