page contents Snow Removal in Grande Prairie by Dylan Bressey, City Council candidate. Election 2017. page contents

Snow Removal

“What to do with snow” is perhaps one of the most debated questions in Canadian cities. I don’t have any easy solutions, but I do have some thoughts.

THE SHORT VERSION

Once City spending has been addressed, I would be open to looking at our snow removal policies. How you remove snow depends on if you value speed, quality of removal, or cost of removal. There is no one right way to do it. Council needs to work hard to learn what priorities citizens value. 

THE LONG VERSION
As I have talked to residents, it has been made crystal clear to me that people are concerned about their taxes. Addressing this needs to be a top priority of Council. I do not support dramatically increasing our snow removal budget until this has been accomplished. However, I could support examining our practices later in the term.

There is an old adage: you can have it fast, cheap, or good. Now pick two.

It seems to me that snow removal follows the same principal. Some people want all their snow gone (especially those windrows!). Some people can deal with leftover snow, but they want a basic job done on their street within a day or two of a storm. And some people don't care about what happens so long as they don't pay too much for it. I do not think it is possible to make more than two of these groups happy.

Snow removal is further complicated by the very different neighbourhoods we have. Many older parts of town have wide lots with narrow driveways. Newer parts are the opposite: they have narrow lots with wide driveways. What is effective in one neighbourhood brings challenges to another one.

There are some issues that have objectively better solutions. But snow removal isn’t one of them. Whether speed, price or quality should be a priority is a subjective call. Many people have a priority they will passionately argue for. Their neighbor may think that priority is the one to ignore. And I do not think one of these people is more right than the other. There are certainly wrong ways to remove our snow. But I do not think there is a single best way to remove it.

As much as some may want it, I don’t have a concrete snow removal plan I can promise to push for if on Council. This is because my priorities may not be the same two that most others pick. When faced with a tough call, elected leaders should try to make the best decision, not only the most popular decision. But when it comes to snow removal, those might be the same thing. When no one priority is best, I think it makes sense to let the majority pick which one to pursue.

Here is what I do promise: when this issue comes before me, I will work hard to make you aware of the City’s options. I will then work hard to listen to what you prefer and let your feedback shape the plan I support. Since there is no “best” snow removal plan, Council needs to let citizens shape the priorities it chooses. It then needs to work hard with administration to choose a strategy to address those priorities.

A Big "However"

I will push to make sure that any plan applies to all streets. Currently, residential snow removal is scheduled to happen weekly the day before garbage days. But I have talked to people who live on small side streets who get missed most weeks. They only get their snow plowed a couple of times per year. When it does get plowed, their windrow is much bigger than anyone else's. This isn't right. It is one thing to deal with a windrow that only has a week's worth of accumulation and which appears at a predictable time. Being surprised with a windrow which includes weeks worth of accumulation is another matter.

If it keeps the City keeps its current strategy, the City needs to make sure that every street gets cleared weekly. If it cannot do this, it needs to ensure windrows are not left on the streets only receiving occasional clearing.

I’d love to hear from you. Out of “fast, cheap, or good,” what priorities do you think our current snow removal reflects? What are the two priorities you would like to see emphasized? Let me know. Get a hold of me, repost and comment on Facebook, or comment below.

-Dylan


I'd love to hear your thoughts. You can contact me by clicking here. I'd also encourage you to share your ideas with others. You can do that by joining a GP Round Table discussion online or in person. Details are here.

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