Its hard to believe we are again talking about snow, but in reality it is probably right around the corner. Over the last year council has spent several meetings and close to twenty hours discussing snow removal. This is a hot topic every year and we set out to thoroughly look at our process, the costs, our equipment and see if we could find some efficiencies. We also considered this at budget last year and purchased some equipment for season. With help from the public we were also able to get some feedback from you on what you thought was working, what wasn’t and what changes you were open to. So what did we decide?
First off we had a variety of issues. These included human resources. We only really have five operators, so when a position is vacant or someone is sick, this has a huge impact. We looked back over our records and we rarely were fully staffed. So we decided to add another position. Another thing that needed to be looked at was equipment. Essentially we have one grader for the town. That grader is supposed to last us 15-20 years, and then we get another one. Over the years what happens is that when we buy a new piece of equipment, the old one is not worth anything to trade or sell. As a result, at times we use it and essentially keep the equipment until the cost to fix it becomes too much and then its gone to scrap. The issue is at times we are artificially inflating how much equipment we have for snow removal. As such instead of having a ten-year-old grader and one that’s 22 that’s supposed to be gone, we now have a new one and a ten year old one. By staggering we have the ability to deal with costs better in budget, and have more reliability by having a new piece of equipment ion the road and a person to run it. Another issue we had was there were some areas in town that were really tight for our operators. In these areas it took extra time and was hard to work in. Parking is always one we don’t want to take away, but in one area of town we thought it was necessary. As a result, over by the hospital we put no parking on the side of the street that had no sidewalks and residences. This will have some impact on the neighborhood, but should allow us to move through this area more quickly and do a better job. The other thing we considered was how much time we spend on detail. We spend a lot of time plowing people’s driveways dealing with windrows. We thought simply plowing people in (as is done in many other parts of Canada) was too much for our residents to bear. We also realize what we are doing now takes too much time. So we are going to plow in driveways, but by using our gate on the grader we should remove about 80% of the snow. You will be left with a small pile at the end of your driveway you will need to deal with. If you are concerned about this, our seniors coordinator has a program you can register for where we solicit volunteers to help us help you out. Give Tammy a call at the Town to register for that program. The last big piece was around communication. How can we let residents know what and where we are working. When vehicles are on the street, or cars are coming through it adds a lot of delay to the process. Our thought was if we can do a better job of telling people where we are working they can help out by making sure their vehicle is off the street, and avoiding that area if possible. So we are working on a 3 day communication plan by which our team will update our website regularly to show you our plan. This obviously will be a guide and there are many factors that may require us to alter that 3 day plan as time goes on, but we want to give it a try. If we are doing our job hopefully residents will do theirs, so we have also said if vehicles are on the street than plow them in. Right now we spend a lot of time trying to finesse around them and the finesse is costing us too much time. We are also going to try some equipment this year in regards to a snow blower and see what it does. There is a unique opportunity that the airport is getting one for the runway and we want to see what it can do. This will be a big change for taxpayers. It requires the tax payer to stay more informed and lend a hand. In turn we want to get the entire town done faster and get into our residential areas more often. We are committing for the ENTIRE season and see what it does for us. In the spring we will re-evaluate and see if we are on the right path. We appreciate your patience and look forward to your feedback.