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Edmonton hasn’t done a residential blading cycle yet this winter. Why not?

City of Edmonton dealing with influx of complaints about neighbourhood roads
WATCH ABOVE: The city says it's dealing with an uptick in complaints about residential road conditions and built-up snow. Still, Edmonton has not called one residential blading cycle yet this season. Sarah Ryan finds out why.

Editor’s Note: This story was published on Tuesday, Feb. 4. As of Friday, Feb. 7 at 10:30 a.m., the city said it still had no definitive plans to carry out a residential blading cycle. At 12:15 p.m. the city said it will update the situation Friday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.

The City of Edmonton has yet to launch a blading cycle to tackle snow on residential roads this season. The reason why? It’s weather dependent.

“We saw a lot of fluctuations in temperature in the month of January — from an extreme cold snap to above-zero temperatures in a matter of 28 to 48 hours,” said Andrew Grant, the general supervisor for Edmonton’s infrastructure and field operations.

“It put some challenges out there for our operational crews, but we’re continuing to work our way through the city to maintain safe passage for our citizens.”

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READ MORE: Is Edmonton getting the most for its snow-plowing buck?

City crews are still focusing on main roads.

“We’re currently still working on our arterials and collectors, picking up a lot of the snow,” Grant explained. “There’s some fairly large windrows out there that are restricting lane width. So our priority is to get those high-speed arterials back up to operating speed.”

WATCH BELOW (Jan. 24): While Edmonton’s seasonal parking ban is over, snow clearing isn’t, at least not in front of a business in south Edmonton. Chris Chacon has more on a local bakery’s snowy issue.

South Edmonton business worries snow is not being removed from out front
South Edmonton business worries snow is not being removed from out front

Last winter, the city completed “a number of” residential blading cycles before Christmas. This year, weather conditions were different, as was the amount of snow that fell and accumulated over the same time period, Grant said.

“With the fluctuation of temperatures, we’ve seen a lot of slush and dislodged snow pack in the residential areas. In order to maintain a snow pack, we need to see colder temperatures in order for that snow pack to actually adhere in place and provide a smooth driving surface.

“Now that we’re seeing the temperatures drop, we’re in the planning phases of going into the residential areas. We’ll probably be looking at some support from our contracted forces to help us.”

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Even if the city decides to target residential areas, they won’t try to get to bare pavement.

“We try to maintain a snow pack of five centimetres throughout our residential areas,” Grant said.

The city says temperatures need to be colder so that snow pack adheres in place, and as of Friday it was still too warm for that.

Crews are currently working on arterials and collector roads to pick up the windrows that are restricting lane width on some roads, which the city said was the main priority.

“Edmonton is a big city and that’s a large volume of snow. We just need to be reasonable with how much our snow sites can hold, and how long it would take it to clear and haul away to ensure that the driving lanes and widths are there for our citizens.

“It’s a fine balance between the practicality of bringing it down to bare pavement and what we have the resources and capacity to support.”

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READ MORE: Grading graders: How does Edmonton snow clearing compare to other Canadian cities?

However, if there’s a particularly bad stretch of road, people can report it through 311.

“A lot of our work in the residentials — when we aren’t in a residential blading cycle — is notification based. So we encourage people to use that avenue.”

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Is 311 fielding a lot of residential snow-related complaints at the moment?

“Yeah, we do get notifications… We are seeing an influx,” Grant said, adding that’s why the city is planning for a residential blading cycle.

WATCH BELOW (Dec. 4, 2019): Roads were slick Wednesday after another blast of winter. It’s giving the City of Edmonton a chance to test out a new snow-clearing policy now that calcium chloride is off the table. Julia Wong has more.

What’s part of Edmonton’s new snow-clearing policy?
What’s part of Edmonton’s new snow-clearing policy?

And, when the time comes, it’s very important people move their vehicles so crews can work.

“We’ll probably be moving a lot of material around and if there are cars parked in the way, and we’re forced to go around them, there’s a possibility that we won’t be able to deliver a level of service that might be expected.”

The city will spread the word about any potential residential parking ban through local media, traffic signage and the online map.