Last year was busy for the town’s operations team, which performed a variety of tasks to keep up the look and function of Strathmore’s public spaces and infrastructure.
During the Jan. 13 committee of the whole meeting, Donna McCallum, the town’s operations manager, presented an update on town maintenance work done in 2020.
One of the priorities of the operation’s team is the maintenance of the town’s stormwater infrastructure. With Strathmore Lakes experiencing flooding after a wet spring, operations deployed a pump at the pond, which worked for 45 days.
The town’s dry ponds, which function to collect water temporarily following rainfall events, also needed attention. Some of these features were holding water permanently, so the operations team cleaned inlet and outlets by clearing vegetation, hydrovacing sediment and replacing rip-rap (stones).
The operations team also maintained Strathmore’s roads by performing crack sealing, which is localized treatment of cracks in asphalt and concrete with a rubberized asphalt sealant. The team also worked to fix potholes, by adding over 23 tons of asphalt. Work was also performed on the six kilometres of gravel roads and 73 kilometres of alleys the town maintains.
In 2019, the town performed a sidewalk hazard assessment, identifying hazards and rating each on a five-point scale. Between 2019 and the end of 2020, all the issues across the three most hazardous categories were repaired or replaced. But as problems can worsen rapidly given the freeze-thaw cycle, the town inspects issues identified by residents and fixes them if found to be hazardous.
There were 42 days of street sweeping performed, but this work was delayed because of the later spring. New route mapping was created for street sweeping using the town’s garbage collection map.
Garbage carts were another focus, with 27 deployments, 52 lid repairs, 72 replacements and 166 wheel repairs performed. The town is currently replacing the plastic wheels on carts with heavier-duty plastic rubber wheels.
Operations was also busy with parks, with staff performing 2,332 hours on bed maintenance, 658 hours on litter control, 218 hours pruning and 170 hours mowing.
Strathmore town Councillor Lorraine Bauer suggested a spring litter clean-up event or creating ways the town could entice residents to address the issue themselves, citing “plogging” a pastime combining jogging and picking up litter that started in Sweden.
Initiatives to reduce some of the time and money the town spends on these duties were also brought up by Councillor Jason Montgomery, including a downtown flower beds and boulevards adoption program, and regular volunteer litter pick-up events. Montgomery said he is also again planning a week-long spring cleanup event, requesting the help of local businesses.
“I look forward to see what the community can do, when combined with the town,” he said.
One of the challenges last year was starting new approaches to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, including staff working in cohorts separated across three buildings and by start time. The team also added various safe work practices and procedures to keep staff safe.
While several community events were cancelled due to COVID-19, operations staff helped FCSS in the hub with 11 pop-up park events, helped set up 15 farmer market events and assisted FCSS with six Good Food Box events.
Looking to brighten up the town, operations dedicated 176 hours to install Christmas lights.
“I think stress levels were high for a lot of people, so this year, we went above and beyond with what we would normally install,” said McCallum.
Operations has dedicated 2,500 hours between roads and pathways to snow events this year, including the snowstorm on Dec. 21 and 22, 2020. During the meeting, Mayor Pat Fule commended McCallum and her team’s performance snow clearing during this late December snowstorm.
“You just came forward and did such great work to get the snow removed in a timely fashion,” said Fule.
Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times