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Changes made to snow removal plan in wake of last year's record accumulation

City officials say they’ve learned from last year and have made changes to the snow removal plan in the wake of last year’s record cold and accumulation.

Using a more collaborative approach between various departments, they’ve created an “extreme snow event plan” to be enacted in the event of a major snowfall, to keep crews from getting bogged down on priority 1 and 2 routes.

As it stands right now, officials will use Day 1 of their 7 day plan to focus on Priority 1 routes which will have to be completed within the first 24 hours after the snow has stopped.

Priority 1 routes are roads that see more than 20,000 vehicles per day such as Macleod Trail and Crowchild Trail.

Day 2 is designated for Priority 2 routes which carry anything from 5,000 to 19,999 vehicles per day, they’ll have to be plowed, sanded and salted within 48 hours of the snow stopping.

Once Priority 1 and 2 routes have been completed, work can begin on Priority 3 and 4 roads.

The problem with last year was the cold and snow didn’t provide them enough time to spread it out over 7 days and as a result some communities were literally snowed in.

“We’ve got the ability to hire on demand contractors,” said city spokesperson Sean Somers. “Last year our crews were doing main commuter routes meanwhile the residential and collector roads were backing up with snow. Our contractors will be able to work in tandem with city roads crews so we don’t see that backlog again.”

“It’ll also us to respond better when we see three weeks of snow fall, like we did last year,” he added.

Officials will be watching the city and conditions closely after a snowfall and will declare a “extreme snow event plan” when they have issues getting into Day 3.

“If we can have someone in there sooner, they can address that snow,” said Manager of Roads Maintenance Bill Biensch.

What is new this year is they have hired a contractor to set up 30 kilometres of snow fencing to prevent drifting, primarily in the northeast and they’ve hired another contractor with equipment to be on stand-by.

Two-million dollars has been set aside for the “extreme snow event plan.”

They also warn the leniency period for snow route parking bans is over and any violators will be ticketed.

The city has set up a one-stop shop for anyone looking for more information about when will certain roads be cleared and if there is a parking ban in place, on their website.