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Should snow be removed from residential streets routinely in Saskatoon?

Click to play video: 'Should snow be removed from residential streets routinely in Saskatoon?' Should snow be removed from residential streets routinely in Saskatoon?
WATCH: With snow piled high on the sides of residential streets along with snow, ruts and ice in other spots along the roads the debate continues -- should the city look into removing snow from residential roads routinely? – Jan 23, 2022

The debate continues — should the City of Saskatoon clear and remove snow from all residential streets routinely?

The snowfall amounts around the city led to some waist-high snow piles on the side of the road and deep ruts with snow on the streets. People are wondering, why doesn’t the city clear them?

The answer comes down to the plan that Saskatoon city council’s decision currently in place: Residential streets are cleared only if the city sees a snowstorm that dumps over 30 centimetres of snow or more. That’s an amount similar to the November snowstorm of 2020, which saw totals way over that mark.

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So far this winter, the largest snowfall total was around 12 centimetres, according to Environment Canada.

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Saskatoon Ward 1 Coun. Darren Hill said that the city could do a better job with clearing residential streets and that he understands why some people are complaining.

“We need to be better in the residential streets in many areas,” Hill said.

“In my area, I would say some of the streets are impassable for smaller cars, including in the north industrial areas. The ruts are getting bad.”

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City residents say that in many areas of the city, snow piles are waist high on the side of the streets or right down the middle. Global News spoke to several residents, who provided their opinions on snow removal and how winter 2022 has been so far.

“The less-travelled parts of town in the residential areas have a lot of snow, for sure,” one resident said.

“Sometimes we have had to wait a bit longer than we’d like for snow clearing,” another resident added. “The snow piles up near the back door and a couple of times this year we couldn’t open the back door in my senior apartment complex.”

Another told Global News, “If the city doesn’t clear streets, then it’s just huge walls of snow and then it melts in spring and makes the streets disgusting.”

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The problem is that snow removal is expensive. The snowstorm from last year cost between $11 million and $14 million. Councillors say they are open to further discussions on doing more and they point out the city has improved snow clearing in recent years, including better snow removal for pathways.

“We did add money in the budget to clear paths,” said Ward 9 Coun. Bev Dubois. She named Meewasin Trail, the bridges and bridges’ sidewalks as examples of paths that were cleared.

After snowfalls, residents are supposed to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice as best they can, according to a Saskatoon bylaw. However, Hill says the city could do a better job of clearing some crosswalks and city crosswalks.

“If we don’t clear these sidewalks on those residential streets, we aren’t doing our job,” Hill said. “There are a number of those crosswalks that I would deem as not passible at the moment.”

Dubois said people can call the 24/7 complaint line if their streets or ruts get really bad. Public works will swing by to have a look.

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Priority one, two, and three streets, such as Circle Drive and Idylwyld Drive, are the primary focus for each snowstorm.

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The customer care centre number is 206-975-2476, and it operates 24/7, Dubois said. “Residents can always call that number and see if they can get something done for you.”

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