By Alain Saffel
It would seem from the City of Edmonton’s new snow clearing policy that it’s all your fault. Why are you parking on the street in the winter? You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
Oh, if only it were so simple.
If you’re wondering what the city came up with after all the soul searching and a peer review committee consisting of officials from Winnipeg, Calgary, Grand Prairie and one of Edmonton’s frontline workers, here it is:
Had they done some consultation with Edmontonians, I’m sure those recommendations would likely include a great deal of cursing.
On the surface it seems like the city is actually getting somewhere. I am highly skeptical. I haven’t been in Edmonton long, but what I’ve seen would indicate the problem is not with parking or a lack of an interactive online map.
The problem is that they just don’t know what they’re doing! Oh, you say, how can I insult the fine workers of the City of Edmonton? How about by using examples? I’ve written about them many times before too.
And of course it’s not everyone, but enough that it’s a problem. Perhaps it’s the contractors. Or maybe it’s city supervisors who don’t know what they’re doing. Either way, the techniques used for snow clearing are the main problem.
Last winter is a prime example. With the series of dumps of snow we got last year, I was out in my alley clearing my driveway and the alley as well. I knew if I didn’t I’d pay for it when it warmed up.
Along came a friendly City of Edmonton plow to clear the alley, or so I thought. I discovered later that what they actually did was to pull snow off the sides to level the snow in the alley.
Oh, it was great when it was frozen and packed, but when it warmed up the inevitable happened: everyone parked on the street! I talked with others on Twitter who’ve said their alleys were scraped to the pavement. I wish.
I’ve talked with others in Spruce Grove who say their alleys are routinely plowed, to the pavement.
So, if the city isn’t going to take proper care of the alleys, how are Edmontonians expected to not park on the street (not to mention areas where street parking is the only option)? Unless this is just a revenue scheme to make up for the province’s $15 charge for plate searches from red and green light cameras? I’m such a cynic.
I know others in my area who take care of their section of the alley, and they ended up out on the street too. There are many elderly people in the city that can hardly be expected to shovel their alley.
I can guarantee you that if my alley becomes impassable, I will be parking out on the street. You might also find me in court fighting a $50 ticket. That would be fun. I took a photo for my community newsletter last winter that showed 10-inch deep ruts in my alley (where I had shoveled the snow) and that was after a few days of melting.
I like the city’s idea to review urban design guidelines for future road construction. Perhaps they could look at new developments too. Thankfully I live in an older neighbourhood with wide streets and large lots. I can’t imagine what it was like in the newer neighbourhoods that have more twists and turns than your small intestine.
One problem I have noticed is when sidewalks are right at the edge of the street. This definitely limits where the city can put the snow. In some areas it’s possible to set the sidewalk back a few feet so more of the snow can be pushed off the road. I’m sure the city already has this in mind when redoing sidewalks.
Other things I have noticed about Edmonton snow clearing? I know I’m not the only one who has seen convoys of six to ten plows wheeling down Edmonton’s boulevards, plows up, almost like it’s a parade. If you’re on your way to another part of the city, why not do a little plowing while you’re going?
Coming in from Spruce Grove on the Yellowhead one evening, I spotted 13 dump trucks and four graders just sitting on the side of the road. And to top it all off? They were being “guarded” by two EPS cars. Just sitting there. I wanted to smash my head on the steering wheel.
And then there’s the time my street was being cleared and there were three or four graders making three or four passes to clear my street. Really? I don’t drive a grader, but I’m sure I could have done that with one grader and three or four passes. I don’t live on a boulevard either.
To top it all off, at the end of the year, the city feels the need to get out the snow blowers, graders, dump trucks and flag people to clear the banks. Why not let it melt and get the street sweepers out later? Far cheaper. Can’t we take advantage of at least one aspect of global warming? Works on the glaciers.
Don’t get me wrong. I am sympathetic to the plight of the city and particularly front line workers. I can’t imagine having to be on the roads all day dealing with some of Edmonton’s legions of dumb drivers, bombing along the roads, no matter what time of year or road conditions, while texting or chatting away on cell phones.
I would really like this new plan to work, but unless the city focuses more on how the roads are cleared, it’s going to be as bad this winter as it was last winter. Look on the bright side though. At least all those $50 fines will help keep the costs down.