City crews are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel more than three weeks after a powerful derecho storm felled thousands of trees across Ottawa — but the job's not done yet.
In an update on the citywide cleanup operation — the largest the city's public works department has ever undertaken — the department's general manager Alain Gonthier said crews have made steady progress, but still have plenty of work ahead of them.
It will take months before it is all complete, but our teams have made incredible progress and will continue until the job is done. — Alain Gonthier, general manager, public works
"The response has required a tremendous level of dedicated work and co-ordination across public works. As a result, many regular maintenance activities were suspended or delayed to allow staff to focus on the cleanup work required after the storm," Gonthier wrote in a memo to councillors Tuesday morning.
"We are transitioning to the next phase of storm recovery, with a continued focus on priority forestry operations while winding down debris-management activities in order to facilitate the resumption of routine maintenance and operations."
Gradual return to normal
Crews have completed curbside collection of storm debris from more than 10,000 kilometres of municipal roadway, and have now completed a first pass of the entire city. In hard-hit areas including Navan, Pineglen, Uplands and Stittsville, crews have completed second and third passes.
"In most areas of the city, the need for collection of storm related debris is now far less, and public works is planning for a gradual return to normal curbside debris collection," Gonthier wrote.
Residents with remaining storm-related tree debris are asked to leave it at the curb for pickup no later than Friday, June 24, allowing crews with heavy equipment to haul it away. City crews remain available to assist residents of the hardest-hit areas who request help to remove debris.
Residents can also haul their own storm-related organic debris to the Trail Road Landfill free of charge up to and including Saturday, June 25.
Hundreds of parks also hit
Cleanup crews are also making headway in city parks. As of June 9, of the 528 parks needing attention after the storm, work has been completed in 256.
"The cleanup efforts remaining for our parks and city trees are significant, and staff are addressing them on a priority basis," Gonthier wrote, adding that will take "several weeks" to complete.
Rangers from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, as well as private forestry contractors, have been aiding city crews in the massive cleanup effort. This week, a forestry crew from Hamilton, Ont., will pitch in.
With the cleanup gradually winding down, the city has been able to resume some regular maintenance work that was delayed by the storm.
Approximately 70 per cent of parks employees have returned to their regular duties including grass cutting, according to Gonthier. Regular pothole repairs are also resuming, he wrote.
"It will take months before it is all complete, but our teams have made incredible progress and will continue until the job is done."