residential street conditions prompt complaints – Winnipeg Free Press

The streets of Winnipeg may be covered in thick layers of slush and snow, but it could take a while before it’s deemed bad enough to clear.

The city’s stance is drawing complaints from some residents, who say the snow is proving a major impediment.

Mel Marginet, who commutes by bicycle and relies on a mix of roads, lanes and active transportation routes to do so, said snow clearing has been slow so far, making it difficult to get around.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Mel Marginet, who commutes by bicycle and relies on a mix of roads, lanes and active transportation routes to do so, said snow clearing has been slow so far, making it difficult to get around.

“There are tons of deviations and it’s so unpredictable,” she said Monday.

Throughout the past week, Marginet said she was forced to get off her bike and walk alongside him through the deep snow on Daly Street in order to reach a key AT path.

“There are about three blocks where you have to push your bike through.”

On true AT routes, his bike’s studded tires may struggle to cut through the snow.

“You can never be sure that your path will be clear. It would be like every time you have to drive somewhere, you don’t know if you’re going to have to hit a snow bank,” Marginet said.

City of Winnipeg estimates show about 22 centimeters of snow have accumulated since wintry conditions set in earlier this month. However, the amount of liquid in this particularly fluffy snow is equivalent to about 12cm of “meaningful snowfall,” said Michael Cantor, Winnipeg’s street maintenance manager.

Cantor said inspectors found the residential roads to be mostly passable, though Winnipeggers are encouraged to report any trouble spots to 311.

“Adequate is sometimes a subjective measure. But at the end of the day, our foremen drive (the residential roads) and actually check,” he said.

Winnipeg’s snow removal policy notes that residential streets are normally maintained on a compacted snow surface, instead of bare pavement. However, those streets will be plowed to bare pavement “whenever conditions permit during a full snow removal operation,” according to the city’s website.

It begins when an inspection warrants a clean-up operation, usually after a 10cm snowfall or an equivalent amount of windblown snow.

Cantor said no decision has yet been made to plow residential streets.

“It’s not really (just roughly) the snow (amount), it’s the conditions. We know that if we get an extra 5-10cm we will probably be at the point where we will then plow.

Many have taken to social media in recent days to criticize a perceived lack of snow removal, with some posting photos of snow-covered sidewalks or complaining of cars stuck on residential roads. Some have speculated that the city has already exceeded its snow removal budget for 2022, so it is reluctant to plow again.

The city currently expects to end the year with $40 million more than its $35 million snow removal budget.



MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Mel Marginet said she would like to see a higher priority given to clearing snow from sidewalks and AT roads, arguing that current conditions are discouraging people from choosing greener travel options.

On Monday, Cantor said city crews continue to clear snow to meet municipal standards and his department has never been asked to restrict work due to budget.

Meanwhile, city policy calls for sidewalks adjacent to major roads and collector streets to be cleared within 36 hours of the end of a “medium” storm. Sidewalks on residential streets must be cleared within five working days of the start of snow removal, as soon as at least eight cm of snow is present.

Cantor said sidewalks adjacent to major roads and collector streets have been plowed twice in the past few weeks, while those along residential roads have been cleared once.

That could soon change. If the current weather forecast that temperatures will exceed 0C on multiple days this week proves accurate, residential sidewalks could soon be set for another plow, Cantor said.

“If you have positive (temperatures) during the day and a significant (drop) at night, it can play a role in creating slippery sidewalks. So we might have to go do a maintenance plow to avoid that.

Cantor said the city isn’t waiting for a potential melt to alleviate the need for snow removal.

Marginet, who is also a member of the Green Action Centre’s sustainable transport team, said she would like to see a higher priority given to clearing snow from sidewalks and AT roads, arguing that current conditions discourage people from choosing greener travel options.

“I would say right now it’s unpredictable… You may have giant holes (in the clearing) and icy ridges to deal with.”

The city is pursuing a shift to improve sidewalk snow removal, after council recently approved $3 million to purchase 15 more sidewalk clearing machines. However, these machines are not expected to arrive until next summer.

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Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga
Journalist

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves telling the stories of this city, especially when it comes to politics. Joyanne became a reporter at City Hall for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

Christy J. Olson