Some Chilliwack residents frustrated by the lack of snow clearing on side roads during last winter’s severe storms may see more relief if the white stuff returns this year.
All roads in the city are given a snow and ice control service level priority, and city hall has now upgraded the priority of 20 roads while downgrading the priority of one.
After what was described as a “challenging” winter storm season between December 2016 and February 2017, staff reviewed the snow control policy, recommended changes, which were approved at the Sept. 19 meeting of city council.
“Operating in severe and prolonged winter weather highlighted the need to upgrade a number of roads to a higher priority in order to improve overall service to residential areas as well as improving service to public transit routes,” according to a staff report prepared by director of operations Glen MacPherson.
The change in priority upgrades 17 roads from priority 4 to priority 3. Priority 4 roads rarely if ever see any snow clearing during winter snow events. Priority 3 roads are described as “local roads of significance within residential areas on the valley floor.”
“These roads act as local collectors for residential traffic accessing these roads from priority 4 routes.”
The roads shifted from 4 to 3 include: Market Way, Sappers Way, Pelly Road, Grigg Road, Armstrong Road, Riverside Drive, Edmonson Road, Lickman Road South, Peach Road, Hopedale Road West, Portage/Lewis from Quarry to Hamilton, Brooks Avenue, Elm Drive, Baker Drive, Southlands Drive, Bonavista Street and Claire Avenue.
In addition, Stevenson Road West, Watson Road and Wells Road were redesignated from priority 3 to priority 2.
Chittenden Road was downgraded from priority 2 to 3.
In 2016, the city spent $1.4 million for snow and ice removal, the bulk of that annual budget was spent in December. The 2017 snow removal budget is just over $1 million. In early February as the snowstorms continued, operations staff estimated it was costing about $85,000 a day in materials, snow removal equipment and labour.
They had 78 people on snow removal duty, with two plowing/sanding crew shifts of 35 people each, as well as contractors and parks staff clearing park areas.
Asked how changes in priority could increase service without a corresponding increase in budget, a city spokesperson said there are many moving parts to the budget and the city can be over or under budget depending on the severity of the winter. Changing the road priorities should not significantly change that, however, city hall will continue to watch weather patterns as it they related to the budget.