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Saint John residents lament city’s response to icy conditions

Click to play video: 'Saint John roads treacherous during winter freeze'
Saint John roads treacherous during winter freeze
WATCH: Saint John’s mayor admits the city was not ready for plummeting temperatures that turned many roads in the city to sheets of ice. Tim Roszell reports. – Jan 20, 2022

The mayor of Saint John has admitted her city was not ready for Wednesday’s plummeting temperatures that turned roads and sidewalks into sheets of ice.

Donna Reardon made the comments following dozens of comments on social media from residents angry over what they believed was a lack of timely response from snow plows and road crews.

One video posted on Facebook showed a driver spinning multiple times down a hill on Westmorland Road. It had been viewed more than 100,000 times as of Thursday afternoon.

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Alison Davidson, a personal care worker, told Global News she felt like she was taking her life into her own hands on her drive to work.

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“So when you’re looking down a street, it’s like a sheet of ice,” she said. “Like a skating rink. And so the streetlights or whatever, it’s just reflecting off this clear surface.”

Joe Hatfield said he fishtailed a number of times starting early in the evening.

“Getting up hills was difficult and downhill was just plain dangerous because steering was an issue,” Hatfield said. “And it only got worse.”

“I’m training to be a volunteer fire fighter and I was scared for people last night,” said Sara Lee Belyea. “I stopped and help (sic) many people if they fell or just asking if they were okay when they would pull over. There was absolutely no need for what happened.”

Click to play video: 'Saint John man says dinner came with hit and run'
Saint John man says dinner came with hit and run

Weather changed throughout a day which began with steady, light snowfall in the city.

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Rain took over in the afternoon before a sharp temperature drop created the icy conditions.

Saint John Transit buses were taken out of service late in the day.

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Saint John Mayor Donna Reardon said snow plows and crews came off the road during the rain because any salt and sand distributed would have been washed away. Reardon admitted the city was caught off-guard by the sudden drop in temperature.

“You can’t put your own crews at risk,” Reardon said. “And it became evident that crews would be at risk out there because we couldn’t keep the trucks on the road. So we had to pull them off. I mean, that’s just reasonable to be safe.”

Reardon said the city’s Winter Management Plan is working, but added that officials should communicate more clearly when crews are taken off and put back on the road.

Davidson said road conditions this winter are the worst she has ever seen. She said that makes it challenging to keep her commitments to her clients.

“They need me,” Davidson said. “I can’t just keep looking out my window and say, ‘Oh, look, no plows have gone by. I cancelled.’ Sometimes that’s not an option.”

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