© Herald photo by Tyler Clarke
City fleet manager Don McGillivray is seen next to one of the city’s two graders during a media tour. The vehicles are part of a fleet ready to take on this winter’s dump of snow.
Confident in city crews’ ability to clear snow from streets this winter, city roadways manager Brent Kennedy said that he’s hoping to improve on last year’s effort.
While last year’s effort has been called a success by the city’s elected officials, there’s always room for improvement, Kennedy said, adding that one of his goals for this winter will be to not narrow city streets as winter progresses.
“We’re going to try and pick up some of the snow earlier than we have in the past, and see if we can keep some of the streets wider,” he said, adding that he has several ideas as to how streets can remain wider this winter.
Anticipating the usual influx of questions that come with frozen precipitation, Kennedy said that a city crew of 11 people will tackle snowfall as soon as it comes.
Although only 11 people strong, including a foreman, the city has improved on its training effort, allowing them to pull from other departments during a snow crisis.
“The training’s getting better and better,” he said.
“We’ve put over 200 people through training in the last little while, and that is for all of our equipment,” city fleet manager Don McGillivray added.
“We’re all little departments trying to get our work done,” Kennedy noted. “We do pull in and try to help each other as much as we can, but everyone’s got jobs to do, too.”
The city has two graders that take on snowfall, and two additional graders they hire in the event of a particularly heavy snowfall.
“If we declare a no parking ban, we bring in the two hired graders immediately, because we know we’ve got a lot of snow for clearing,” Kennedy said.
As with previous years, after snowfall city crews will begin with priority one roadways and work them down to priority four, which is residential.
Priority one includes major arterials and emergency routes, priority two is collector roads, city bus routes and school zones and priority three is the central business district.
Anticipating a couple points of public contention, Kennedy addressed both the deployment of no parking signs and of ridges of snow left on people’s driveways.
When it comes to no parking signs to accommodate snow removal efforts, he said that signs are put out before 5 p.m., allowing people 12 hours to move their vehicles.
We’re going to try and pick up some of the snow earlier than we have in the past, and see if we can keep some of the streets wider. Brent Kennedy
Residents have been getting better at moving their cars prior to the grader making its way down the street, he said.
“We did some towing a couple years ago … in some really problem areas,” he said. “That really seemed to help, and those areas aren’t a problem anymore.
“I think people got the message … They know we’re more serious about it.”
If crews are unable to make it a street with “no parking” signs within the day, signs are either knocked over or taken away.
As for driveways, Kennedy said that city graders have gates that lift snow away from driveways, whereas the two hired graders they deploy during incidents of significant snowfall do not.
Even with the gates, Kennedy said that “every now and then we leave a ridge of snow on someone’s driveway.”
“If it’s less than 12 inches, go clean it -- we’re not going to run back and do it if you can do it yourself,” he said. “Where we forgot to gate a driveway and you’ve got three feet of snow on your driveway, please call and we’ll go back and we’ll fix it up for you.”
With snow lifting prohibitively expensive, Kennedy said that city crews focus on plowing and lift snow mainly in the downtown area, where there is nowhere to push it. Potential flood areas also see the lifting of snow.
On top of the plowing and lifting of snow, the city deploys a sander throughout the city, which sprinkles sand and a de-icer solution onto roads. The de-icer is made up of different products depending on whatever batch they get in, Kennedy said, adding that they typically include some chlorine product and beet juice.
In addition to city responsibilities when it comes to snow removal, city communications manager Kiley Bear notes that residents play their own role.
As per the city’s snow policy, residents are responsible for snow removal on their sidewalks in order to clear the way for pedestrians, mail carriers and delivery people. This policy is based on voluntary compliance.