London councillor aims to improve city’s snow clearing standards

(AP Photo/Jonathan Drew)

Shawn Lewis, councillor for ward 2, is making it his mission to see whether City Hall can improve snow clearing across London.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the civic works committee approved a motion from Lewis that asked staff to investigate the financial impact of changing some of the city’s snow removal standards.

Lewis made better snow clearing a campaign promise after it became one of the most popular topics on the campaign trail.

READ MORE: Long winter putting strain on London’s snow removal budget

“I have seen personally and felt personally on my own street the need for better snow clearing,” Lewis said.

“I heard it in the campaign on the doorsteps — even in the middle of August, when it was 35 degrees and I was wearing a second skin of sweat — that people were not satisfied with some of the basic services the city was delivering.”

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He wants to know the operational and budget impact of several potential changes, including lowering the clearing of residential streets from the current 10 centimetre threshold to include eight-centimetre and seven-centimetre options.

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Lewis also wants to know the cost of lowering the threshold of sidewalk clearing from eight cm to five cm, making school walking routes a priority, buying new equipment and options for faster response times during heavy or consecutive snowfall events.

Lastly, he wants staff to “conduct a review of current snow plowing routes and available technologies to implement smarter, more flexible and responsive snow clearing.”

READ MORE: Montreal to launch first major snow clearing operation

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Lewis doesn’t anticipate any pushback on the idea from staff or his council colleagues.

“I had an opportunity before Christmas to chat with our city engineer, Kelly Scherr, about this and her response to me was basically, ‘Well, if you give us the resources and the funding, we can clear the snow better,” he said. “But it all does come down to what’s in the budget and what are we going to dedicate to snow removal in terms of human resources and budget expenses.”

“This snow removal plan, yes, it’s not going to fix it for next month, but it is going to fix it for next year.”

Currently, residents are instructed to give crews a minimum of 24 hours after the snowfall ends to clear local streets and sidewalks, and an additional 48 hours for bus stops.

The motion still requires full council approval.

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