Councillors urge review of Toronto's snow-clearing efforts, with focus on sidewalks and bike lanes
With spring on the way, two councillors are urging Toronto staff to do a "comprehensive review" of the city's snow-clearing performance this winter — particularly when it comes to sidewalks and bike lanes.
Councillors Shelley Carroll and Dianne Saxe are asking that the review include future options to prevent city crews, contractors and private property owners from moving snow from roads and parking lots onto pedestrian pathways and into bike lanes.
"The city invests heavily in clearing sidewalks and bike lanes of snow and ice. Unfortunately, this investment is wasted when cleared sidewalks and bike lanes are then obstructed by snow and ice that are put onto them in order to clear the road or a private driveway," the pair said in a letter supporting their motion for a review.
"Safe passage for pedestrians is more important than bare pavement for motor vehicles," they continued.
This winter was the first that new contractors controlled the bulk of snow-clearing operations in the city. CBC Toronto previously reported on internal documents that raised serious questions about how prepared the winter operations division and its contracted partners were to handle the season.
After a storm dumped about 30 centimetres of snow on March 5, the city received about 2,700 snow clearing-related complaints from residents in the days that followed. Some frustrated Torontonians posted pictures online of sidewalks still covered in snow or TTC stops blocked by windrows nearly a week after the storm had passed.
Since November, the city says it's received some 17,000 service requests related to snow, which typically correlate with how much snow has fallen after a storm.
Altogether, requests related to bike lane clearing, salting icy sidewalks and sidewalk clearing made up roughly a third of such requests — the latter comprised of 3,705 individual inquiries alone.
"However, we have seen a general reduction in requests submitted following each snowfall," read a statement from the city.
"Staff are working with contractors to ensure this trend continues and provide a high level of service from the City of Toronto."
As part of their motion, Carroll and Shelley are also asking staff to review the "scope and efficacy" of the current complaint reporting system.
The Infrastructure and Environment Committee — of which Shelley is a member — will consider the motion on March 20. If it passes, it will go to city council on March 29. Shelley and Saxe want any report to be completed by September.
CBC Toronto has covered snow-clearing in the city extensively in recent months. Here are some stories you may have missed: