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Calgary streamlining snow emergency process

A snow plow clears a snowy Calgary road on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. Global News

Plows could be hitting Calgary roads sooner during a snow emergency, following changes to the city’s snow and ice clearing policy.

Under the previous policy, city council had the authority to declare a snow emergency and unleash additional clearing equipment on city roads. The proposed changes would move that authority to the director of the city’s roads department and put thresholds on what defines a snow emergency.

Read more: Calgary wraps up winter with more money in snow-clearing budget than expected

On Wednesday, the city’s transportation and transit committee endorsed the changes, with city council getting final approval at an upcoming meeting.

“Ideally, this just moves things forward faster,” Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison, who chairs the committee, said. “So when we have a significant snow event on residential areas, it gives the director of roads the ability to now make the decision to call a response immediately, rather than wait for council.”

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Read more: Calgary blanketed in 40 cm of snow as winter storm blows through

The impetus for the changes came from the December 2020 snow event that saw 40 centimetres of snow fall in parts of the city overnight.

Council was on its winter break at the time and had to convene an emergency meeting to be able to declare it a snow emergency.

City officials still have to determine where the additional snow-clearing resources would come from, whether from existing city assets or the private sector.

Click to play video: 'Calgary snow and ice clearing budget for 2021' Calgary snow and ice clearing budget for 2021
Calgary snow and ice clearing budget for 2021 – Apr 8, 2021

Adam Pawlak, leader of planning and operations for the roads maintenance division, said administration took a close look at whether the city could use the services of volunteers during a snow emergency.

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“This type of on-street activity is typically discouraged due to liability, safety and environmental concerns,” Pawlak told the committee. “On-street work would require authorization, along with indemnification, insurance, equipment and safety training.

“The city will continue to promote volunteer programs for interested parties, which are focused on sidewalks.”

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