Snow clearing policy questioned after recent snowfall

Some Winnipeggers are finding it difficult to get around more than a week after the first major snowfall of the season.

Crews have completed a major plow operation but some streets and sidewalks remain difficult to navigate.

Orville Pashe lives near downtown Winnipeg and uses the bus to get around. He finds it difficult on some residential streets to walk to the bus stop when he’s with his four kids when there’s snow covering the sidewalk.

“For me to walk it’s still kind of slippery and loose snow and stuff,” Pashe said. “I just slipped at the corner of Main Street and William (Avenue).”

Winnipeg was hit with between 10 and 20 centimetres of snow, depending on the area, on Nov. 10 and 11. Eleven days later some streets, bike paths and sidewalks remain snow covered and difficult to navigate while others have been cleared right down to the surface.

The city said in a statement crews completed a citywide plow of priority one (main routes) and priority two (bus and collector routes) streets, sidewalks and active and active transportation routes. The city said it also plowed residential sidewalks following the recent major snowfall and is now in maintenance mode addressing locations as needed.

“Currently, crews are inspecting reported trouble spots and working to ensure conditions are maintained as outlined in the council-approved policy on snow clearing and ice control,” the city said.

No residential plow has been conducted. The policy states in part that a plowing operation of residential streets will be done if an inspection warrants a clearing operation which is usually after 10 centimetres of snow falls.

Cindy Gilroy, a Winnipeg city councillor for the Daniel McIntyre ward, wants council to revamp that policy to better accommodate the transportation needs of people living in high-density inner city areas of the city who walk, bike or take the bus.

“I have Notre Dame, Wellington, Sargent, Ellice and Portage (avenues),” Gilroy said. “All are accessible but people need to be able to get to them and that means better snow clearing on our sidewalks.”

After last winter, one of the snowiest on record, Gilroy made a push to improve snow clearing in the inner city. She thinks her ward, for one, needs to be treated more like the downtown when it comes to clearing sidewalks and bike paths by giving it a higher priority designation when the city clears snow.

“I really want to see us do a much better job in prioritizing on what communities really need a higher priority in terms of sidewalk clearing,” Gilroy said.

The city did approve a plan to purchase 15 additional sidewalk snow clearing machines which have been ordered and will be put into operation next winter.

But Gilroy feels the priority system still needs to be updated to maximize the benefit of the new machines.

Pashe managed to get his bus but it wasn’t easy. He worries about another winter similar to the last one.

“You follow other people’s footsteps so some people just drag their feet and clear it a little way and that’s your walkway,” Pashe said. “I think they can do better.”

The city said residents should call 311 to report any snow clearing concerns.  

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