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City to look at snow removal policies after record snow this Fall

Snow haul-off operations in Fort St. John. Photo by Chris Newton
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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Mayor Lori Ackerman proposed two resolutions regarding the City’s snow removal policies at Monday’s council meeting.

The City of Fort St. John saw nearly 160 centimetres of snow in October and November, which was the second-highest amount of snow that has ever fallen in those two months. After receiving numerous complaints from city residents about snow removal in the last two months, Ackerman decided that the current policies should be looked at and brought forth two resolutions.

When it comes to staffing, the City’s current policy states that the City can only employ more staff if the value of property assessments increases. The first resolution was to look at the possibility of adding the consideration of the City’s geography to the current policy, due to the City’s two recent boundary extensions.

“Currently the city has 250 employees,” said Communications Coordinator Julie Rogers. “If we decide to add a staff person we can’t unless property assessments have gone up.”

The second resolution was to have the City’s snow removal policy reviewed by Council, particularly the ability of city workers to react to heavy snowfalls. Currently, crews clear Priority One roads before moving onto Priority 2 roads, which are mainly residential streets. However, as soon as five centimetres of snow falls, crews must go back to clearing P1 roads again. Rogers said that because of the amount of snow that fell in the last two months, many residential streets didn’t see a plow for up to a week after a dump of snow because crews were focused on Priority 1 streets.

“If the policy clearly says they must go to P1 after five centimetres of snow, then I think it’s a quick change,” said Ackerman. “It’s an opportunity to provide them with the ability for professionals to make judgement calls. If our policy is very direct, then we need to pull back on that.”

City Manager Dianne Hunter said that staff are already beginning to look at some of the snow removal policies as they pertain to both roads and sidewalks.

The resolution for Council to begin reviewing the snow removal policy passed unanimously.

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