Swanson's Motion Get Snowed In

Robert Thomas

“Time is of the essence,” said Councillor Brian Swanson when introducing his motion regarding snow removal.

Coun Swanson’s motion proposed dividing the city into five separate zones, with the City responsible for one zone and the four other areas to be contracted out. No contractor could be awarded more than two of the four zones.

He told City Council, on Monday night, that there were four key areas when it came to snow removal: a plan, personnel, equipment and response time.

“I believe we have the appropriate amount of equipment,” Coun Swanson said, adding the “situation with personnel (there is) still a lack of trained operators to use our equipment for 24 hours when required...the last major snowfall of last year highlighted this.”

“Snow removal was not done in a satisfactory manner...we need to get out early" Swanson said.
“I believe with private contractors we would be having an almost immediate response to our requirements,” Coun Swanson added.

He spoke about the financial cost as not be exorbitant.

“There is no anticipated major increases in the cost of this unless we have significant snowfall beyond the norm,” he said, adding later “five areas getting plowed ASAP in regards to snow.”

Councillor Crystal Froese said she opposed Coun Swanson's motion because at the previous Council meeting approval had been given to a comprehensive motion brought forwarded by Councillor Chris Warren and Coun Swanson's proposal was too specific.

If snow fell in one area and not another or on a boundary line “how do you determine that works with the weather?” Coun Froese asked.

At the July 9th regular Council meeting Coun Chris Warren had proposed an extensive and comprehensive review of snow clearing in an effort to make it more efficient and responsive to resident's needs. The policy review would include not just plowing and removal from roads but sidewalks and alleys as well.

Councillor Scott McMann said he could not support the motion due to the Warren proposal approved at the previous meeting.

“It makes the assumption the correct way to do it but we haven’t had the analysis Coun McMamn said.

Councillor Dawn Luhning said it was a “good motion” as she had “watched three or four major snowfalls not getting cleared for over a week.”

“The City is not capable with trained workers to do this work in a proper amount of time,” Coun Luhning.

It needs to be noted that, for years, Coun Luhning has been a vocal proponent for improving snow clearing and removal.

Coun Warren said he could not support the motion as the review was underway and it “increases the reliance on contractors to be helping out in that time period.”

He said that many municipalities called upon contractors to help out with snow filled streets.

Coun Warren stated that he ultimately felt the resulting snow removal policy would likely be “a hybrid of City forces and contractors.”

Responding to the opposition to his motion Coun Swanson said “the job of elected officials is to provide direction to Administration…it just never seems to get it right and the most recent snowfall we had is an example of that.”

“I think it is very clear we have to have a quicker response; we don’t have the personnel to provide 24 hours around the clock service.”

In the end Swanson’s motion was defeated 3 – 2 with Coun Warren, McMann and Froese opposed and Coun Swanson and Luhning in favour. Mayor Fraser Tolmie was absent and one councillor seat is vacant due to the resignation of Don Mitchell.