PARRY SOUND – When it snows, everyone wants their streets and sidewalks plowed right away, but ratepayers must be patient, town staff say.
The director of public works said the town is doing the best they can with the resources at their disposal to clear roads and sidewalks of snow. Councillors have been receiving complaints regarding the speed with which snow is being cleared.
Roland Cilliers/North Star
Last week, town Coun. Bonnie Keith asked Peter Brown, director of public works, to address the complaints she’s heard from the public regarding snow removal – or lack thereof – on some streets and sidewalks.
“I’ve had some concerns from people in the public, where core services that they consider snow cleaning and snow clearing to be a real issue not only on the roads, but on the sidewalks too,” said Keith. “We have a good percentage of people who are seniors and even if one wasn’t a senior, they like to walk on the sidewalk in a more easy fashion. I’m wondering if you can advise the public how they can better understand why it is at times the snow clearing isn’t occurring when it’s expected when they have to go to work in the morning, or they’re walking?”
Brown said the best is being done with the staffing and resources that are available.
“The public should be aware that we have a limited number of resources as far as staffing goes. We have a night crew that’s on – there are two individuals that are on from early in the evening to early in the morning – they finish around 4 a.m. They will do things like plow the roads, plow the sidewalks, sand and salt and they’ll also clear catch basins if they need to be cleared and they’ll also do the Kinsmen Rink, try and put as many floods on it as they can,” said Brown during Tuesday night’s council meeting. “Our resources are somewhat stretched in that aspect. Once the night crew goes home, we have the day crew that comes in; we can bring them in as early as 4 a.m., depending on the kind of snowfall that we have.”
Additionally, Brown said crews have had to work with one less plow, as one of their aging plows finally quit working. The new, $180,000 seven-ton plow is expected to arrive within a week or so.
“I want to emphasize that we only have so many staff members that can do this kind of work. In a situation like (last Tuesday) morning – we had two members of the night crew out until 4 a.m., we asked them to stay an extra hour and a half so they could help us out,” he said. “The snow/rain/freezing rain started at about 2:45 a.m., it was off and on. In this particular case it was the amount of snow that fell – by the time the snow route was done the first time, there was already snow accumulated, so we have to get our machines out again to do a second run. We had our trackless sidewalk out three times (last Tuesday), just to keep up and I can tell you that the night crew will be out again tonight. We do the best we can with the amount of staff and equipment that we have. Again, I think the staff are doing a great job with what they’re given. As time progresses, we want more snow removed, sooner, quicker, but it’s just a question of how much snow has fallen, when it’s fallen – all the staffing issues – it’s not the same response I can give you on a daily basis.”
Keith asked Brown is there was anything the frustrated public could do to put their mind at ease.
“My advice to the public is to appreciate the amount of work that is being done and to be as patient as they can. I walk to work most days, and I experience the sidewalks not being plowed in some cases, you just have to exercise patience, because we will get there when we can, as soon as we can,” he said.
Brown added that the roads are maintained based on the number of vehicles that drive it or homes on that road – the less cars, the less homes, the lower the priority.
“There is a priority, it’s based on the classification of the road, the number of vehicles going down that road. The first routes that are being done are Bowes Street, Church Street, Seguin Street, they’re done on a very regular basis, from there we branch out to the secondary roads, the third roads and the fourth roads - we try to make it to each road at least once a day. That’s an MTO mandate, a council-approved decision matrix that was some years ago,” he said.
Coun. Dan McCauley agreed.
“I think the public needs to know that there’s certain streets that are a priority, the lesser streets, not that they’re any less important to the residents that live on them, they do come in later on, on the list,” said McCauley. “I’m on one of those streets that’s a dead end, I left for this meeting at 6 o’clock this evening, it still wasn’t done. We exercise patience.”