City councillor calls for better snow clearing on Perimeter Highway

One Winnipeg city councillor wants to see better snow clearing on the Perimeter Highway after the roadway was shut down several times over the winter.

This winter saw extreme amounts of snow and ice which closed the highway eight times, with the most recent closure on Thursday morning.

“It’s a trade corridor, it’s dangerous, it’s a death trap,” said Coun. Janice Lukes.

Trucker Wally Timmins is a regular on the Perimeter Highway and has been using it for decades.

“I remember driving the Perimeter in ‘73 and ’74,” said Timmins, who added this winter has been particularly treacherous.

“Terrible, terrible, terrible – just so icy and slippery and not enough maintenance. It’s bad.”

Lukes said Mother Nature can’t take all the blame, noting staff and equipment shortages at the provincial maintenance yard in St. Norbert are part of the problem.

“Over the last five plus years staffing has been cut, mechanics have been cut to fix and repair the machines, and the number of machines have been reduced,” said Lukes.

She wants snow and ice clearing and summer maintenance beefed up.

In a statement, the province said this winter was unprecedented territory – the third worst in terms of snowfall. It said it is actively hiring staff and says crews can work from 3:00 a.m. into the night when it is safe to do so.

“Regardless of staffing or fleet size, if conditions are unsafe for staff to be out on our highways then the province keeps safety in mind and waits until conditions allow them to work. When the province is up against weather conditions and road closures, it must ensure that it is safe on roads for all Manitobans, including provincial staff,” the province said.

Timmins hopes things improve as closing the highway is an inconvenience for his industry.

“Well, we got to find another way around to where we’re going,” he said.

The province also said it has an overall fleet of 340 vehicles for snow clearing, de-icing and grading, and has spent more than $400,000 for snow clearing agreements with 32 communities.

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