By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Homeowners living in residential neighbourhoods along courts, cul-de-sacs, and crescents will get their roads plowed within a timely manner under a revised winter control policy approved by politicians.
After a winter season that has prompted the most complaints politicians and city staff about the poor snow plowing service from residents since amalgamation, city staff revised their polices at the urging of councillors at the March 18 public works committee meeting to start plowing residential roadways when there is 8 cms of snow on the ground, rather than 10 cms, and that the plows will clear the snow to the asphalt rather than simply leaving the snow packed on the streets. Plows will also have those roads cleared within eight hours. City staff said the revised policies could add $1.6 million to the winter control budget this season. Politicians are scheduled to vote on the recommendations at their March 27 council meeting,
“All residents should expect the same service,” said Darrel Smith, manager of road operations. “It will be community applied.”
City winter control policy sets a clear priority on which roads to clear during a severe snow storm. Primary roads that have to be cleared first include theLincoln Alexander Parkway, and the Red Hill Parkway, along with the various roads through the escarpment, such as Kenilworth. Plows will also begin clearing arterial roads as their next priority. But some councillors believed some neighbourhoods received preferential service while other residential roads didn’t get some service for days.
Smith told councillors that all courts and crescents will have snow plows that will clear the snow within eight hours making roads passable.
“This is music to my ears,” said Ward 5 councillor Chad Collins. “It has been a huge issue for residents. The plowing has not been consistent.”
Mountain councillor Scott Duvall, who pressured city staff into establishing better winter control measures for homeowners on courts and crescents, said people who pay taxes are expected to receive the same level of service that other residents receive.
“I believe we are making progress,” he said.
But Dundas councillor Russ Powers said the city’s snow plow operations this season have been inconsistent at best and terrible at worst. He said after the first large snowfall on Boxing Day his residents received “terrible” service. After councillors complained to city staff, snow plow operators performed better after the city’s second severe winter storm earlier this year. But after a recent snow storm, he said, Dundas residents received service that was worse than after the first storm.
“It’s frustrating,” he said.
In an effort to improve the city’s snow plow operations, members of the public works committee agreed to Collins’ motion to see if the city can put up on the city’s website the real time snow plowing operations of Hamilton vehicles during a storm.
The city of Chicago in 2012 introduced its Plow Tracker, while New York City also established online monitoring of its snow plows. In addition, the city ofAnn Arbourhas uploaded the tracking of its snow plows during snow events.
Collins said each city truck has a GPS system that can help residents identify where vehicles are as they plow streets. City staff can look at how much it would cost, and identify the logistics in uploading the information to the website, he said.
“We should investigate if we can accomplish it,” said Collins. “People can turn on a computer and watch the progress.”
Collins said he would like to see if the program can be completed in time for the 2013-2014 winter season.