Snow-clearing operations begin, services delayed as Winnipeg digs out

A major citywide snow-clearing operation involving more than 300 pieces of equipment is underway after Winnipeg’s roads and sidewalks were buried by the first major storm of the season.

“I’ve seen upwards of 15 to 20 centimetres of snow, and drifts almost double that. It’s a lot of snow in a short period of time,” Mayor Brian Bowman said at a Friday news conference.

Crews are clearing streets, back lanes, sidewalks and active transportation paths based on the priority system, beginning with Priority 1 (regional streets and major routes) and Priority 2 (bus routes and collector streets).

Much of that work began Thursday night and is ongoing, said Michael Cantor, manager of streets maintenance for the city, adding that work on back lanes began Friday morning.

The typical timeline for clearing P1 and P2 streets is about 36 hours after the snowfall has ended. Cantor said that is still the aim this time around.

“So hopefully tomorrow morning the streets will look much better,” he said.

WATCH | Brian Bowman on snow-clearing operation:

Snow-clearing operations begin in Winnipeg

13 hours ago

Mayor Brian Bowman says city workers are clearing the roads as fast as possible after yesterdays dump of snow. To help, a parking ban for Winnipeg kicks in at midnight.‚Äč 1:38

As for residential streets, there is no current plan in place, he said.

“We’re still evaluating. We haven’t decided,” he said. “At this point there is no residential parking ban announced. At this point we are only plowing trouble spots on residential streets.”

The public will be notified if the city decides to take the plows to residential streets, Cantor said.

He would not comment on the expected cost of the operation, saying it has only begun.

Added Bowman: “I can assure you that our finance chair, when the snow starts, his lip starts to quiver because snow is costly. But we’ll dig our way out of this, not only from a logistics [perspective] but financially.”

A  snow-clearing status map for Winnipeg can be viewed online.

Snow route parking ban

To accommodate the clearing operations, the city is enforcing a temporary snow route parking ban beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, prohibiting parking on those designated routes between midnight and 7 a.m.

You can find out if your street is a designated snow route by searching the address on the city’s website.

Vehicles parked in violation of the ban could receive a $100 ticket ($75 if paid early) and be towed to a compound.

Vehicles parked in violation of the snow route ban could receive a $100 ticket ($75 if paid early) and be towed to a compound. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

Snow routes are a top priority for snow clearing to ensure that emergency vehicles can navigate quickly and safely around the city, a news release from the city said. Making sure vehicles aren’t parked on snow routes overnight helps the city clear the critical routes quickly and efficiently, the release said.

The current ban will be in place until snow clearing is completed and the public will be notified when it is lifted.

The annual snow route parking ban, which typically lasts until March, will come into effect on Dec. 1.

Garbage, recycling collection

Trash and recycling collection was already delayed due to the Remembrance Day holiday, and the storm is likely to extend delays, said Michael Gordichuk, manager of the city’s solid waste department.

“Our crews have been struggling to keep up,” he said.

The hope is to finish the majority of collection on routes that are normally covered Thursdays by the end of Friday, and have Friday collection finished by the end of day Saturday.

Canada Post suspended delivery on Friday across southern Manitoba. (Matt Howard/CBC)

If your garbage, recycling or yard waste hasn’t been picked up by 10 p.m. Friday night, the city is asking you to make sure the bins are out for 7 a.m. Saturday.

Some Friday pickup may not be collected until Sunday morning, Gordichuk said.

“Please be patient. Our crews are working diligently to try and get this done.”

Updates on collection delays can be found on the city’s website.

Transit, mail delivery affected

The storm has also caused service delays for Winnipeg Transit.

The delays are expected to continue into the peak rush-hour period on Friday. Transit users are encouraged to check schedules online before travelling.

Canada Post issued a “red delivery service alert” for all of southern Manitoba, including Winnipeg, on Friday, which means all mail delivery has been halted.

“The safety of our employees is our number one priority,” a news release from the agency said.

“Delivery will resume once conditions improve and it’s safe to do so.”

People are asked to clear ice and snow from their walkways, stairs and driveways to ensure safe access to their doors when service resumes.