Edmonton looking to improve snow-clearing strategy

The city is looking at options to improve snow-removal services next winter after many Edmontonians gave the service a failing grade this year.

Edmonton tested plowing all residential roads down to bare pavement this year, but they mayor says residents had negative feedback on the project.

“I think that has created bigger windrows that has taken parking away from people, that has created very difficult for people to clear their sidewalks,” said Amarjeet Sohi on Monday.

It’s not the first attempt by the city to shake up the snow-plowing strategy.

“We started on this narrative of bare pavement, and calcium chloride, and you know the roads are going to look like July every day of the year, and quite frankly I think we got administration chasing its tail,” said Ward pihêsiwin councillor Tim Cartmell of the city’s attempt to use calcium chloride on streets in previous winters.

Officials say the city’s snow-clearing budget has shrunk by about $7 million over the last five years, partly due to a decrease in photo radar. The roads department has also lost about 85 employees in that time, meaning it can only deploy two thirds of its plows after a snowfall. Additionally, there are 2,000 more kilometres of street to clear in Edmonton than there were in 2017.

“I think there’s a misalignment of resources and expectations, and how the inventory has grown,” Sohi said.

Cartmell is still hopeful the city can find a solution with the existing resources.

“If we activate all the equipment we have, if we use the forces we have to do it, what can we do?” he said.

City staff have laid out additional options that would see streets cleared more quickly, but it would cost between $30 and $70 million more.

“Some of the dollars we’re talking about total to 2, 3, 4 percent property tax increases, if we don’t find somewhere else in our overall budget to pay for these things. So yeah, they add up.” 

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson.

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