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City could penalize snow plow contractors

Some collect on-call pay, but didn’t pick up phone during storm

By Gord Bowes, News staff

Contractors who ignored a call to work or failed to complete their work are partially to blame for snow removal problems following a Boxing Day storm, says a Mountain councillor.

“Some contractors didn’t respond,” said Coun. Scot Duvall (Ward 7, central Mountain), and some contractors just didn’t know the roads or their routes.

The result was numerous side streets that didn’t get plowed and angry residents who were continuing to call Duvall Thursday — eight days after the snow started — to complain.

City crews were still being sent out this week to clear roads which were initially missed.

“It’s very frustrating to people. They see other streets done and not theirs, and they’re paying the same taxes,” said Duvall.

The city’s roads department is reviewing what exactly happened and will report to council next week.

Bryan Shynal, director of operations, said he doesn’t want to point fingers before the report is released.

“We want to make sure we have a clear understanding of the gaps that occurred,” he said, while admitting, “This is obviously not a stellar moment.”

Shynal said here’s been a fair amount of turnover in plowing contractors and staff since the last big storm, in the spring of 2011.

The lack of snow last winter may also have had an impact on the situation. While workers were sent out to salt or sand roads during light snowfalls, with little actual snow clearing necessary last year, workers might be out of practice.

”It’s a different skill set, it’s a different finesse required,” Shynal said.

The city has a plow force that consists of 110 municipal machines and another 330 contracted machines. Duvall said the city workers are generally responsible for the arterial roads, while contractors handle many of the side streets.

Duvall said council might decide to penalize contractors, who are paid an on-call fee, or terminate their contracts with the city.

He said he hoped some issues such as removal on snow on courts and dead-end streets — often done last and often with just a quick swipe that doesn’t clear the whole roadway — would also be addressed in the report.

“Everything is going to be looked at to make sure we don’t have these problems in the future,” Duvall said.

 

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