Three weeks after a huge dump of snow hit Calgary, the evidence is still apparent on city streets and has prompted a proposal by a pair of city councillors.
Ward Sutherland and Jeff Davison presented a notice of motion to a city committee Tuesday in hopes of making it faster and easier for crews to clear Calgary roads.
"What we’re looking at is extreme weather events," explained Sutherland. "To deal with it more quickly and not have the situation where you're locked in for a day or two because you can’t even get out because the snow is too high for your vehicle."
The Ward 1 councillor says the current snow and ice control policy hasn't been updated in 10 years and requires approval from city council for road crews to access resources and funds during a major event. He wants to see that step skipped but with guidelines in place to do so.
“It’s always good to re-look at stuff,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
“As things have switched around, there are different technologies out there, there are different ways to partner with private contractors — which we already do,” the mayor added.
Because it was a committee meeting, there was no debate or discussion on the motion Tuesday and it will head to a full city council meeting next week.
"When we have the snowfall that recently happened, that was 27 per cent of the annual snowfall that happened in 24 hours. At the time there was no council meetings, so even if they wanted to come to council to get it passed, that would have been difficult," Sutherland said.
If the notice of motion is approved by the priorities and finance committee, it will head to council for approval next week.
Frustration in Residential Neighborhoods
There has been significant frustration over the city's response to the December storm that left vehicles buried or stuck for weeks in some residential neighborhoods.
Many people have called for residential roads to be placed higher on the city’s snow clearing priority list but the motion being present Tuesday doesn't directly address that.
Sutherland says that's a separate discussion and would ultimately require a larger snow budget that could translate into higher taxes.
"There is actually 9,000 kilometres of residential roads," said Sutherland. "To do all the residential roads once, and do everything in Calgary all at once, is $13 million and our total annual snow budget is $35 million."
Sutherland says it's a discussion he’s willing to have if residents want council to address those concerns, but says Tuesday’s motion is focused on the actual snow plan.
The mayor admits the city’s snow removal “can always be better,” but explained December’s snow event was handled differently because it was close to Christmas and happened during a time with strict health measures in place.
“Normally, with that amount of snow, we would call a parking ban on snow routes,” Nenshi said.
“We very deliberately chose not to do that, even though we normally would have, because we didn’t want to add more stress to people’s lives when they’re stuck at home. And that did in fact slow down our response a little bit.”