Community safety is foundational to a healthy, resilient and vibrant city and good maintenance of city infrastructure supports a strong local economy for our busineses and quality of life for our residents.
Winter snow removal is about both.
A few years ago, City Hall would receive frequent complaints about winter snow removal. That has reduced significantly in recent years. There are still residents that are very inconvenienced by a major snow fall. However, City Hall received a number of positive comments about our response to yesterday’s big snowfall. They will be forwarded to the men and woman on the front-line who keep our streets safe.
Winter maintenance includes snow clearing and the spreading of sand or salt on approximately:
- 1,200 km of roadway
- 660 km sidewalk
- 180 crosswalks, crossings, steps, walkways
- 650 bus stops
There is a lot of information on the City’s website if you want to learn more. Click here. Our practices are described (e.g. when we clear different roads and sidewalks and why some are done first). Not all roads and sidewalks receive the same level of service. You can even see the routes on the site. You can also read about the salt brine solution we apply before a storm which reduces our use of salt and makes snow clearing easier.
During a heavy snowfall, it can take the City up to five days to plow all of the sidewalks. Clearing the ice and snow from the sidewalk in front of your home or business will make it safer for everyone. That’s why we ask, please “be nice and clear the ice”.
Do you need help with clearing snow or have time to volunteer? Learn more about our partnership with the Volunteer Centre of Guelph and Wellington which manages the Snow Angels program.
We budgeted approximately $3.4 million for road snow removal in 2013 – about another $500,000 for sidewalks.
We have had 3 full residential plow outs this year compared to zero last year. Full residential plow outs only get triggered under specific conditions. Each one costs in the neighbourhood of $50,000. This is above and beyond our regular winter control work.
When we get a big event, like the one on Tuesday, employees from other service areas are called upon to help. For example, forestry employees are reallocated from their regular duties to sidewalk winter control. We also have contracts with private sector companies to assist when we get a big event. They are on a retainer and are paid hourly when they are called in for service. We have priority over their other retainer contracts for winter control.
In the winter, public works employees move to a 3-shift system to minimize overtime (e.g. night-time snow removal). In the spring, summer and fall their duties change. We have a dedicated crew – they perform a variety of seasonal tasks. Guelph winters are relatively mild so there are lots of outdoor road jobs that continue during this time (thank you for filling the big pothole today on the Regent Street hill that was threatening to take a wheel).