Summer has arrived, but our city streets are a constant reminder of what winter left behind. Street sweeping is underway, but the clean-up of sand and gravel could take twice as long as usual.
City sweeper crews are trying desperately to fight through their worst year of leftover dirt and debris, and restore roads to their regular condition. Right now, they’re behind schedule. “Well it’s been a challenging year. We’ve had a lot more snow events last winter than we usually have so we’re about a month and a half behind our regular schedule,” says Kevin Jensen, the Acting Transportation Operations Manager. “We have double the amount of sand and gravel than we usually do in order to keep the roads safe, so now we’re behind picking it up and that’s all there is to it.”
Last winter saw the city lay down fifteen thousand tonnes of sand. Coincidentally, this is the first year sweeping teams are trying a new program aiming at cleaning the busiest roads first and getting to the residential areas after. “It’s caused some confusion because people were used to us doing neighbourhoods at the same time that we did the main roads and it’s taken a bit of explanation this year.”
With double the amount of dirt and debris needing to be moved than most year, and the introduction of a new sweeping system, the city is relying on residents to help make the operation run more smoothly. “We put the signs out, we’re in the residential areas now and we’re really asking people to move their cars to off street areas or in the back alleys,” says Jensen. “Whatever they have to do, just so we can get the streets completely cleaned up.”
Even with the warnings, street sweepers are still running into plenty of cars parked on the road. Corey Bjarnason has been part of the sweeping crews working long hours to clean the streets. “People are pretty good, if they do leave their car out we kind of watch and if we’re making a final pass and someone moves their car, we always come back. But there’s not much you can do.”
Still, many residents are hoping the streets will be completely back to normal sooner than later. The debris on the road is especially tough on cyclists. “I think it’s good that they’re finally getting out but it could have been done earlier, because summer’s like half over now,” says cyclist Caedence Affleck. “But I appreciate them trying and doing it because it makes my life a little easier and safer.”
Cleaning is in progress in Mountain Heights, Heritage Heights and Ridgewood. Varsity Village is scheduled to be swept next, followed by Copperwood, and Indian Battle Heights. For a complete schedule, visit the City of Lethbridge’s website: