Snow and Ice Update, January 22, 2014

During the June 2013 Flood, we experienced heavy rainfall that triggered catastrophic flooding in Alberta.  Over 75,000 people were evacuated from their homes—the largest evacuation order in the City’s history. The downtown core was shutdown as well as both public and Catholic school districts were closed.  Large portions of the City were damaged. But, while this disaster affected every Calgarian the extent of the damage was isolated to areas around the Bow and Elbow rivers.  This allowed the City of Calgary and the Calgary community to identify and resource immediate flood recovery activities, and to support the delivery of the recovery.

 

Similarly, the December snow fall was the largest in over 112 years.  The nature of the current emergency is not isolated to a specific area, but the entire City of Calgary. While this snow emergency is not as severe as the June 2013 Floods, it does show us that our current Snow and Ice Control program is inadequate when dealing with multiple snow falls of 5-10 cm within a relatively  short time period.

 

FACTS

  • A total of 60 cm of snow has fallen in Calgary since December 1, 2013.
  • The City hasn’t seen this much snow in 112 years.
  • We had multiple snow falls in a short time period with relatively no breaks or Chinooks.
  • The goal of the Snow Action Plan is to make all residential roadways passable. 
  • This means snow removal will not be completed on every residential street in Calgary. 
  • Crews will conduct an assessment of a roadway, and then decide if the roadway will need to be flat bladed, cleared, or if snow should be remove.
  • In some cases, crews may determine that no action is required.
  • The Snow Action Plan developed by administration was setup to give crews the ability to address streets in the most timely and cost-effective manner possible.

Unfortunately, this means that I cannot instruct crews to divert resources to clear or remove snow from one area to another. My job, as Councillor, was to make Ward 12 a priority for “snow relief”. Based on limited resources—and the fact that this was the worst snowfall in over 112 years—certain communities will be completed before others. 

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

While I encourage Calgarians to contact the City with information, call volumes remain high with calls into the 311 Call Centre. To avoid extended waits or delays, citizens are reminded that Service Requests are able to be filed via the 311 Calgary App, or online at calgary.ca/311.

Currently, City forces are working in Douglasdale/Glen, Copperfield, Cranston, and McKenzie Towne.  These are large communities and it will take a considerable amount of time to assess and complete every road.

 

LESSONS LEARNED!

  • We should have contracted crews to remove snow “curb-to-curb” from every residential street.
  • The City should look into privatizing some or all of its snow removal services.
  • The current Snow Action Plan requires Crews to conduct a subjective “assessment” of each residential roadway.  This assessment may be contrary to what the public thinks is acceptable.    Not to mention different crews may assess similar roads differently.  With this method, we needed to create a set of standards that allowed crews to get down to the pavement, to try and maintain a small enough windrow to maintain driveways and sidewalks, and to do this in the quickest rotation possible so that it’s predictable. This means 24 hour notice has to be put up and adhered too. In most cases, snow could of been cleared to the middle of the road and then loaded into dump trucks for removal.