Town tweaks snow clearing policy

·3 min read

The Town of Strathmore has amended its snow removal policy by emphasizing pathway and sidewalk clearing, and increasing the snow level threshold for road clearing.

The new policy directs snow clearing to occur when snow depth on roads measures five centimetres (cm). The previous policy saw snow removal implemented at three cm. The snowfall threshold for pathway and sidewalk clearing remains at three cm.

As a comparison, Airdrie and Okotoks clear snow on their roadways at five cm, while Cochrane uses three cm and Chestermere uses two cm.

The amended snow removal policy passed with a 5-2 vote, with Mayor Pat Fule and Councillor Bob Sobol voting in opposition.

Snow removal on the town’s streets is rated on a “priority” basis, with three levels of service priority. Priority one roads, including arterial roads and expressways, emergency services access roads and school zones, will be plowed 24 hours after a snow event. Priority two roads will be plowed 48 hours after an event, while priority three roads are to be plowed 72 hours after an event.

Some roads in the Hillview, Lakewood and Edgefield neighbourhoods, plus Huxted Way, have been added to the town’s list of priority roads for clearing. But First Avenue and Waddy Lane are no longer included as priority (three) roads. According to Donna McCallum, the town’s parks lead, Waddy Lane was removed because plow trucks have difficulty getting down the narrow road that has on-street parking on either side.

This change raised concern from Councillor Tari Cockx, who questioned whether roads providing access to Wheatland Lodge should be treated as priority one, to ensure emergency medical services may reach it. Subsequently, access to the lodge will be reviewed, said McCallum. Second Street, from which Wheatland Lodge may be accessed, remains a priority three road.

The process of snow clearing in the downtown central business district has changed as well because there is limited capacity for snow storage there. While snow can be dumped in some of the garden beds, it piles up quickly and reduces the visibility of pedestrians, said McCallum.

Downtown businesses are now being encouraged to move snow into the parking spots along the streets where the town will remove it. The town will also deploy a ground crew to clear handicapped parking stalls downtown following a snowfall event.

“We want to make sure that people that have mobility issues can get out of their vehicles safely,” said McCallum.

The town’s sidewalks and pathways, meanwhile, are also rated by three different levels of priority.

Regional pathways, representing the town’s main pedestrian corridors that can be used by people with disabilities and recreation with adequate maneuverability in winter conditions, are considered priority one.

Examples of regional pathways include those along Wheatland Trail, Brent Boulevard, Centennial Drive and around Kinsmen Lake, to name a few. Other priority one areas include sidewalks adjacent to town-owned buildings, bus stops next to pathways and drainage corridors, referring to pathways that move rainwater and meltwater via overland drainage.

“There’s many areas in Strathaven where the water has to flow through some of those in order to remove any melting events or rain events, so it’s critical that we keep those pathways open so that the water can actually flow down,” said McCallum, regarding the town’s drainage corridors.

Sidewalks adjacent to parks and greenspaces are considered priority two and will be cleared within 48 hours after a snow event. Local pathways, which link pedestrians to regional pathways, schools and residential areas, are also priority two but will be cleared 72 hours after a snow event. Examples of local pathways include those adjacent to the Western Irrigation District (WID) canal, including along Thomas Drive, and those around Strathmore Lake.

Public pathways, which are typically short linking pathways, are priority three and will be cleared within 120 hours after a snow event.

Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times