Kimberley City Council has voted unanimously to approve the Snow and Ice Management Plan for 2017-2018.
City Chief Administrative Officer, Scott Sommerville says that the City brings back the Snow and Ice Management plan every year, “hopefully with some incremental improvements.”
“Last year we were surprised by the amount of snow and this year we were surprised by the earliness of the snow,” said Sommerville.
The Operations Department recently compiled an analysis of snow related complaints from the 2016-2017 season. Last year the City received 101 complaints, the biggest one revolving around frozen ruts in Marysville.
Sommerville says this information is very useful for the plan and will help the City going forward.
Currently, the City uses a colour-coded map to designate three different priority areas: main streets and emergency access routes with hills (blue), other main streets (green) and local streets (red).
Councillor Kent Goodwin suggested alternating the red, or third priority areas, so that there isn’t one part of town that is always plowed last. He also asked what the rationale is behind making certain areas third priority, such as Morrison Subdivision and certain roads in Forest Crown.
Senior Managers of Operations, Chris Mummery responded saying that those areas were determined on several different factors including school bus service, grade of the roads and accessibility.
Councillor Darryl Oakley says that the colour coded map is “dangerous” because it could potentially be misleading.
“The City is doing it’s job in keeping the priority routes open, it’s just that it won’t quit snowing,” explained Oakley. “When they say green is day two, the problem is that may not happen. Day two is actually seven days away because it won’t quit snowing.”
Somerville says a lot of people don’t know that unless there is heavy snowfall on the weekend, the crews get a break.
“So you think you’re on day three, but it’s actually business days most of the time,” said Sommerville. “It’s fairly complex plowing a City like Kimberley. The goal is to get a little bit better at how we do it every year, to be more efficient and deal with what mother nature throws at us.”
Mayor Don McCormick says that other challenges include windrows, the memory of last year’s two meter snow fall in February, and the fact that certain commercial areas are left with snow in their parking lots for long periods of time.
Sommerville says that windrows are a part of snow plowing and a reality of winter in Kimberley. He says the City expects residents to deal with windrows on their properties and that for the City to maintain them could cost an additional $100,000 each winter. However, says Sommerville, the City could conduct the research on windrow removal if Council thinks it is necessary.
Councillor Nigel Kitto says having the numbers on windrow removal would be helpful and that there is a large amount of man power and use on equipment already.
“There’s a whole heap of expectation out there around snow removal and a lack of understanding about how much that truly costs,” Kitto said. “It would be great to come back to the community and say yes we could provide that service but this is what its going to mean to your taxes.”
Snow is simply a reality for residents of Kimberley, says Councillor Sandra Roberts.
“We live in a town where we get a lot of snow. If you come to Kimberley, you know that, it’s not a surprise,” said Roberts. “Surely you’d make a plan about how you’re going to deal with that somewhere along the way. If nothing else, find a contractor that will come and remove your snow. Or pay a kid. In my neighbourhood we have 23 feet of snow guaranteed every winter and we all shovel.”
Sommerville and McCormick agree that it all comes down to incremental improvements and the staff who put in the hard work.
“Our crews do an amazing job, people come from neighbouring communities and marvel at the job we’re doing clearing the roads,” said Sommerville. “And yet it’s also great that we have residents with very high expectations for what we can accomplish. From the outside it looks like we’ve done a great job [but] if you’re a resident, [we] can always being doing better. We’re always looking for ways to do a better job.”
More information, maps of snow removal areas and the City’s snow and ice management plan can all be seen at www.kimberley.ca under seasonal operations.