City of Whitehorse gearing up to update its snow policy, launches survey

·2 min read
A loader dumps snow into a dump truck in Whitehorse. The city is working to update its snow and ice policy after record-breaking snowfall last winter. (Mike Rudyk/CBC - image credit)
A loader dumps snow into a dump truck in Whitehorse. The city is working to update its snow and ice policy after record-breaking snowfall last winter. (Mike Rudyk/CBC - image credit)

It may be late July, but the City of Whitehorse is working to get ahead of the curve and improve its snow clearing operations.

The city launched a public engagement process on proposed changes, including increasing the size of its snowplow fleet, fines, enforcing parking bans and prioritizing active transportation.

Few specifics were disclosed. Tracy Allen, the city's director of operations, said the engagement process will help suss out more details.

Last winter, Whitehorse was hit with record-breaking snowfall, more than 265 centimetres of it, compared to an average of 143.

Allen said crews were maxed out, adding the current snow and ice policy is no longer up to snuff. Making matters worse, she said some residents who failed to move their cars from roadsides significantly delayed crews.

"One parked vehicle can add up to 30 minutes, and that's if we manage to get it towed and/or we clear around it," Allen said.

'Titanic shift'

Councillor Dan Boyd agreed the city's policy is in urgent need of a facelift.

He said snow-clearing capacity is strained by rapid population growth and compounded by climate change.

While changes are likely expensive, Boyd said they are warranted to avoid another year of chaos on the streets.

"I like what I'm seeing here so far. I sure hope the public will understand and appreciate that we're gonna have to get some public support to make this work well, too," he said.

Councillor Ted Laking called proposed changes a "titanic shift."

"We've heard from our citizens that they would like to see us make such a shift," he said.

What's next?

Residents have until August 19 to complete the city's survey on the issue.

Feedback will inform an administration report, which will be presented to city council the following month.

Allen said while some measures are projected to take effect in time this winter, full implementation is expected to span several years.

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