Clearing snow from Vancouver side streets not part of City's plan

Dec 21 2017, 12:23 am

If you live on a side street in Vancouver and feel like you never see a snowplow when the white stuff starts falling, there’s a good reason: it’s not part of the city’s snow clearance plan.

And while City officials took another look at that as part of their overall snow removal strategy this year, it seems that reality will not be changing.

“Vancouver does not, and never has, plowed side streets,” said Amanda McCuaig, with the City’s engineering department.

After last year’s winter wallop, City Council directed staff to report back with an “estimate of the cost and resources needed to provide full side-street snow removal.”

That report found that to have all side streets cleared of snow, even a week after it fell, the annual snow clearing budget would need to rise by $2.72 million to $3.5 million.

In addition, the City would need to make a one-time investment of up to $10 million buying infrastructure, equipment and vehicles, found the report.

There are other issues at play as well.

McCuaig told Daily Hive that many local streets are narrow, requiring cities to put in parking restrictions in order for equipment to fit in without damaging property.

Cities that undertake local street snow removal, she added, “typically experience snow for long durations and reliably every year.”

Still, McCuaig noted, the City did update its snow removal budget this year to $1.62 million, compared to its previous snow removal budget of $780,000.

By comparison, other Canadian cities have much larger budgets for this, including Toronto ($94 million), Calgary ($37 million), and Montreal ($155 million.)

Vancouver’s snow removal routes include arterials, bridges, viaducts, collector routes, emergency routes, school routes, priority bike lanes, pedestrian pathways, bus stops, and arterial corner ramps. Crews follow a three-tier response plan when clearing it all as well.

Following last winter however, “we expanded coverage to include the addition of pedestrian pathways, arterial corner ramps, bus stops, and priority laneways required to assist in garbage collection,” said McCuaig.

She also reminded residents and businesses that the onus falls on them to make sure walkways outside their property are cleared of snow by 10 am. For those who need assistance performing the task, McCuaig encouraged people to check out the city’s Snow Angel volunteer program.

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