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Council approves changes to snow and ice policy

Last Updated Jan 19, 2021 at 3:31 pm MDT

Cars struggled to work through the snow after a massive winter storm left more than 20 centimetres on the ground on Dec. 22, 2020. (PHOTO: Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Calgary councillors have agreed to review the snow and ice clearing policy in order to help clear areas of the city faster in the event of a major snowstorm.

The issue was raised after the last big dump, just days before Christmas, which left about 40 centimetres of snow on the ground in some parts.

It especially caused problems in residential areas, as it took time for city crews to make their way around to clear access routes and many people took it in their own hands to clear snowed-in cul-de-sacs.

A motion drafted by Councillors Jeff Davison and Ward Sutherland sought to change the requirements around a snow emergency, to allow administration to mobilize extra crews rather than waiting for councillors to take action.

“This is, in part, a little bit about letting Calgarians help Calgarians, which is a bond I think many of us feel is very unique about our citizens,” Davison said. “This is about good customer service within an incredibly complex issue when a major snow event happens. But like many things, things change over time along with the priorities of our citizens.”

The councillors cite the anger and frustration of Calgarians as the reason for the proposed changes, which would eliminate the red tape, and allow the city to act when we get hit with a hard snowfall.

Davison earlier said that the December snowfall was a bit of a perfect storm, as it was harder to get quicker action due to the holidays.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it’s incorrect to assume nothing has been changed with their policy over the last decade, as they have made continual improvements such as adding money.

“We’ve been working with this issue for quite some time. I will remind people that prior to the 2011 policy changes, which were actually pretty significant, we didn’t touch residential roads at all except for certain 311 complaints.”

Crews now do go to the residential areas later in the seven-day snow plan, however they do not plow the roads and instead use a grater to pack down the snow so it is easier to drive on.

The motion passed unanimously so now administration will look into all the options. An amendment from Councillor Peter Demong was also approved, as he suggested looking for private operators who can help with the snow removal as well.