Street cleaning could use a change – but just how sweeping?

There has been a fair bit of interest in street sweeping across the city since it was made known that I had raised a number of questions with Administration. You can view my Administrative Inquiry that was sent to both Roads and the Calgary Parking Authority (CPA) here. My hope is that through these questions, some meaningful change to our street cleaning program can be implemented, notably:

  • Earlier schedule release, notably for those on the front end of the timeline
  • Placing signs in neighbourhoods with an increased lead time
  • Avoiding sudden changes and, if they are required, improved communication with enforcement
  • Directing ticket revenue to compliance improvement efforts, such as increased/improved signage

I have received a number of emails from residents across the city on both sides of the debate. Many claim that notice was not visible enough or advanced enough, some claimed to not understand that the ban meant the entire community and not just the streets the signs were on, while many others have said the notice was visible and placed well in advance of the planned street sweeping. Others have stated to me that they were aware that street cleaning was in place and moved their vehicles before the sweepers arrived on their street, but after the ban had started and claim that this should not result in a ticket. With that, I would like to clarify a few things about what I would like to see happen from the City, but also the cooperation we need from our residents for a successful street cleaning.

Changes from the City

  1. Increased signage. As of writing, the CPA has issued 29,728 tickets. This will result in the collection of somewhere between $2.4 to $3.6 million in fines. To be very clear on why tickets are up – the CPA has utilized its camera cars across the city to improve efficiency. In previous years, not all cars that should have been ticketed were ticketed because they were being issued manually.
    • This money should absolutely not be treated as a windfall and needs to be put toward improving compliance. Ideally, we don’t want to collect any fines during street sweeping because this means our roads are getting entirely cleaned. Increased signage will help ensure that all residents have the opportunity to be made aware that street sweeping is happening and to move their vehicles.
  2. Adequate notice. I have questioned if 12 hours notice is adequate. Now, from hearing from individuals as well as seeing posts in various community groups, it appears that notice for the most part has gone up two to three days in advance. However, there have been several cases reported where street sweeping dates have suddenly changed, catching some residents unaware. I believe this practice needs to be avoided, if not outright eliminated.
  3. Improved communication with CPA. While it has only been a couple of cases, I have heard from some residents that Roads changed the schedule, moving street sweeping to start a day later, only to have CPA come through on the first day sweeping was originally planned, but is no longer happening. This cannot happen. I have been told that they are looking into mounting cameras on the street sweeping vehicles themselves, which if implemented, will eliminate this problem entirely.
  4. Consideration to the area. We do not sweep the downtown core and other commercial areas during the day and consideration needs to be given to other areas where on street parking is required during limited times, such as places of worship and pickup/drop-off zones around schools

Cooperation from residents

  1. Obey posted parking restrictions. Many residents have emailed me stating that they moved their vehicle before the street sweeping vehicle was on their street. However, it would be a logistical nightmare to rely on everyone to do this. There is no set time for when the sweeper will enter your street and we need the cooperation from citizens to remove their vehicles for the entirety of the parking restriction. There may be a conversation to be had on if a 6 a.m. start time is required, but regardless of the time, the parking restriction must be obeyed.
    • Others have stated they had moved their vehicle and moved it back to the street after the street sweeper has been through, only to receive a ticket. I have raised a question about this to Administration, but this practice is not ideal because the street cleaners will make multiple passes on a street and they may not happen consecutively. This is to ensure as much material as possible is removed. Residents may see a sweeper go by and think the coast is clear, only for that pass to have been the pre-sweep and hindering the actual sweep by moving their vehicle back to the street.
  2. Be aware of the signs. While I am advocating for increased signage, it’s not possible to put a sign in front of everyone’s house or even every street. The City has over 16,000 lane kilometers to cover and limited resources. More signs will cost more money, as well as require more man hours to put them in place. My hope is this can be covered through the fines collected and any additional staff can be drawn on from existing departments.
    • Street sweeping happens every single year and the City needs residents’ help to be on the lookout for signage come spring. Communication to over 500,000 residences is a daunting task. You can help by checking your address at Calgary.ca/sweep, as well as sign up for email alerts for when sweeping will be scheduled in your neighbourhood.
  3. Be good neighbours. If you see a neighbour who has left a vehicle on the street, make sure they are aware that street cleaning is happening. If vehicles parked in the alley during street sweeping has made it a little cramped, try to manage and if you are truly being blocked, talk to your neighbour. One resident shared with me that a neighbour had their car towed from the alley. We all need to cooperate.

I will be pushing for changes to be in place by the time street sweeping starts up again next year, but we still require cooperation from residents to make sure that our expenditure on street sweeping is being used as efficiently as possible. Roads are a shared resource and we want to ensure they are clean and safe for everyone. For those of you outside my ward, I have had a number of conversations with other Councillors who want to see the improvements I’m proposing made.

For anyone still reading, neither I, nor any Councillor, has the ability to overturn a ticket issued by CPA. Improper tickets can be disputed either online through an administrative review or through traffic court. More information is available here: https://www.calgaryparking.com/web/guest/parkingtickets

I welcome your thoughts on improvements that can be made to the street sweeping program. I can’t change what has happened, but I can make sure meaningful changes are made for next year. You can share your thoughts with me here.