City proposes re-vamp of snow clearing as Regina sees fewer blizzards
REGINA -- The city is looking to change how it clears winter roads and sidewalks as Regina has experienced less snow than before.
City staff said on Wednesday that the changes intend to improve snow removal, noting that Regina has seen less snow accumulation and fewer snow days.
“We’ve seen that residents are fairly happy with the current policy, but some would like to see enhanced snow removal,” said Kim Onrait, the executive director of citizen services, during the public works and infrastructure committee meeting.
“In the same light, they don’t want to see a mill rate increase to deal with that,” he said.
Onrait said even though conditions have been less slippery overall, crews have had to tackle whatever ice there is more regularly than the snow.
“We are dealing with ice a little more and snow a little less,” he said.
He said the city only saw two snowstorms during last year’s winter season.
Fewer snow means more savings for the city. It spent $7.7 million last year, coming under budget by about $1.2 million.
Onrait said he expects the city to spend less this winter, as well.
With the cost savings, staff have proposed a number of changes to snow clearing in the city.
It would result in additional expenses annually, but the city notes it has a reserve of $1.8 million should Regina experience an above average winter season.
For the most part, crews would start clearing roads when there is a snowfall trigger of 5 cm. Currently, only some roads are cleared when there is a trigger of 5 cm, but others are cleared when there is a trigger of 10 cm or 25 cm.
City council will decide next year if it wants to spend extra on the new snow clearing efforts during budget deliberations, but here is what the proposal looks like.
PROPOSED SNOW CLEARING CHANGES
- Category 1: Crews would immediately begin to clear freeways and expressways (including ramps and loops) and any road designated as a hospital route when there is a trigger of 5 cm of snow. They aim to have these roads clear in 24 hours.
- Category 2: Minor arterial roads, major collector roads with traffic volumes greater than 5,000 vehicles per day, transit routes, roads in Regina downtown and bike lanes would be cleared when there is a trigger of 5 cm of snow. They aim to have it clear in 36 hours.
- Category 3: Major collector roads with fewer than 5,000 vehicles per day, minor collector roads, and industrial and commercial roads would be cleared where there is a trigger of 5 cm. Resdiential roads with traffic greater than 1,500 vehicles per day and roads that lead into schools bus unloading zones also fall under this category. Aims to be completed in 48 hours.
- Category 4: All gravel roads would be clear when there is a trigger of 5 cm. Aims to be completed in 60 hours.
- Category 5: All local and residential traffic with less than 1,500 vehicles per day would be clear when there is a trigger of 15 cm of snow. No expected timeline for completion.
Upgrade plowing for school unloading zones
- School unloading zones would have a higher priority than before, moving into Category 3. Snow ridges would be removed on both sides of the road in front of the school after a plowing event.
- This enhancement would cost $100,000 annually.
Sidewalks by transit stops
- The city would improve snow clearing around transit stops.
- This enhancement would cost $339,000 annually.
- Transit routes would be cleared faster than before, moving into Category 2.
- This enhancement wouldn’t cost extra.
- Residential roads with greater than 1,500 vehicles per day would see snow cleared sooner, moving into a Category 3.
- All residential roads would be plowed after every snow event greater than 15 cm.
- Would cost $304,000 extra annually.
- Bike lanes would be moved into Category 2. The city currently doesn’t have a policy for bike lanes.
- No extra costs.
- Staff are recommending council implement a snow clearing bylaw for all property owners. It would require home owners to clear their sidewalks, helping ensure neighbourhoods are more walkable.