WINNIPEG – No one wants to talk about snow in September, but no one wants a repeat of the difficulties removing it from city streets and sidewalks like last winter either.
So city hall is considering changes, including
doubling the fines for drivers who violate parking bans during snow clearing,requiring contractors to put more heavy equipment on streets during snow removal operations;and putting some sidewalks higher on the priority list to be cleared of snow and ice.
The recommendations are in a report from city staff posted online Friday.
It suggests that the current fines are not high enough to discourage parking offences during residential plowing operations. Staff suggest doubling the penalty to $300. It also notes that in other cities, violators are also dinged with the cost of towing but doesn’t suggest taking that step in Winnipeg yet.
“I feel badly if you get a higher ticket but on the other hand we have to get people off the streets to get the streets plowed,” said St. Vital councillor Brian Mayes.
During every residential parking ban, the city says it provides “courtesy tows” to about 1,000 vehicles parked in the way of plows. But there aren’t nearly enough tow trucks to meet the demand. The city says it hands out about 5,000 tickets during each residential parking ban.
The report also calls for more effort from contractors who provide most of the hundreds of pieces of heavy equipment that are called out to clear snow. It recommends upping the “minimum equipment requirement” in each contract. As an incentive, the city will offer four year snow removal contracts instead the current three year contracts.
In January, problems with snow clearing prompted one councillor to demand contractors be fired, which staff rejected. A council committee also suggested earlier this year that the city explore financial penalties for contractors that dump large piles of snow on sidewalks or private property and don’t remove them promptly; but the report from city staff Friday is silent on the topic.
Some sidewalks would get cleared faster, under another proposal. The report notes that sidewalks are plowed according to the same priority list as the adjacent street, even if the sidewalk is much busier than the street. More money would be allocated in the snow clearing budget to bump some sidewalks from Priority 3 status to Priority 2.
“The sidewalks are pretty bad, you can’t get these walkers down there, people just can’t go. I’d like to see them clear the sidewalk a bit better,” said Winnipeg resident Shirley Brocklehurst.
A council committee report from March notes, “Fort Richmond sidewalks along Pembina where there is very little pedestrian traffic, will get higher treatment than Roslyn Road, where there is very high pedestrian traffic.”
The report also recommends changes to downtown parking rules: even and odd day parking on Hargrave Street, Hargrave Place and Carlton Street, south of Broadway to provide more options for downtown residents during snow-clearing; and more money in the budget for labourers to move and replace garbage and recycling bins out of the way when snow removal and garbage/recycling collection schedules clash.
All the changes would cost the city an addition $1.6 million.
“We’ve got to start building that higher number into the budget,” said Mayes.
City hall’s Infrastructure and Public Works Committee will consider the report September 9th.