As heavy snowfall continues, several social media posts have popped with local residents, many very frustrated, discussing the issue of windrows blocking local driveways following plowing by the City of Kimberley.
The City of Kimberley responded to the Bulletin’s request for a response to these discussions. Chief administrative officer Scott Sommerville confirmed that the Operations desk has been receiving a high volume of calls regarding this issues. Complaints are recorded and passed on to appropriate staff. They are also reviewed again in advance of the annual snow and ice management plan review.
“Everyone hates windrows, maybe with the exception of contractors who make a living in the winter removing them and industrious teenagers earning extra spending cash,” Sommerville said.
He said that the City has a Snow and Ice Management Plan that gets “incremental improvements” made to it every year, which can be found at this link https://kimberley.civicweb.net/document/88868
“With well over 100 kilometers of road to maintain as well as 23 kilometers of trails and sidewalks, you have to plan the work and work the plan,” he said. “You can’t let individual’s priorities override community priorities. When it snows on back-to-back days, we have to restart on the main streets, emergency accesses, and hills.”
Sommerville added that after a heavy snowfall the City needs to focus on plowing priority routes first. Slowing down to remove windrows would result in side streets getting plowed less frequently.
“When the City is caught up after significant snowfalls and is widening streets, we will send out a loader or Bobcat to follow behind the grader to remove windrows from driveways,” Sommerville said.
Numerous people online asked what the cost would be, were the City to remove the windrows immediately following plowing operations. Sommerville said that a staff report from Feb. 5, 2018 indicated that cost to be an extra $215,974.
That document can be found here: https://kimberley.civicweb.net/document/52711
“Council’s job is to determine service levels and corresponding taxation, and it was determined that the extra expense would result in too great of a tax increase,” Sommerville explained. “The snow and ice management budget for 2021 was $327,594. There is a reserve for extreme weather events, which can be utilized if needed.
“Neighbouring communities that provide a higher and costlier level of service have recently had to suspend their windrow removal service due to recent snow volumes.”
What if someone is physically unable to remove the windrows themselves, due to, for example, advanced age or physical disability?
“There are numerous contractors and service clubs available throughout Kimberley,” Sommerville said. “Neighbours should be looking out for one another, and helping the elderly or disabled if they can.
“It’s amazing to hear about community-minded neighbours going above and beyond to help out. That’s the Kimberley way!”
Machinery is another factor in this issue. Some city machinery goes down from time to time, especially when temperatures dip into the low negative twenties.
“Some of machinery is from the early ’90s, and requires more maintenance than the newer equipment,” Sommerville said. “The accessories such as gates for snowblades and blowers break down frequently, and would add to this equipment down-time.”
Sommerville was also asked if these windrows could potentially pose a safety risk, if say someone needed to leave their house in an emergency and their way was blocked.
“The Fire Department, RCMP, or Ambulance will contact the City if they are unable to attend emergencies,” he said. “If we don’t prioritize opening up the roads, then being able to leave your driveway doesn’t do anyone much good.”
If you have further concerns or wish to register a complaint, you can contact the Operations and Environment Services line at 250.427.9660 or by using the City’s online reporting tool: https://bit.ly/KimberleyLightship