Snow piles frustrate Winnipeggers as cleanup continues

Click to play video: 'Snow clearing complaints' Snow clearing complaints
Snow piles continue to cause headaches for Winnipeggers, even though the latest residential snow plow is over. Global's Will Reimer reports. – Jan 26, 2022

Ed Buell makes a point of keeping his driveway free of snow.

That is, up until he says city crews dumped a pile of the white stuff right behind his vehicle last week.

“The city came by to clear the roads, they did a good job of that, but they put it all on the end of my driveway and I can’t get out of my laneway,” Buell says.

“We tried to clear some of this, my wife and I, it is like cement bricks these things … we did what we could, but this is what’s left. We gave up.”

Ed Buell says it was “difficult” dealing with Winnipeg’s 311 service as he sought to have a snow pile removed from the end of his driveway. Will Reimer / Global News

The North Kildonan resident says it took multiple requests to 311 and a phone call to his councillor before a crew arrived late Wednesday morning to take care of it.

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Read more: Sidewalk snow impassable for Winnipeg family whose daughter uses wheelchair

It was Buell’s first time making a request to 311, and he calls the experience “difficult.”

“They never contacted me back, I had to go (online) and track my ticket to find out that they just closed it,” Buell says, adding the city deemed his driveway “passable.”

“When someone reports a problem, take it serious. Don’t dismiss it.”

Ed Buell says it was “difficult” dealing with Winnipeg’s 311 service as he sought to have a snow pile removed from the end of his driveway. Will Reimer / Global News

But Buell isn’t the only one raising concerns about the city’s snow-clearing.

Councillor Janice Lukes, of the Waverley West ward, says she’s received numerous calls from residents about snowbanks blocking sidewalks and obscuring visibility at intersections.

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“Basically we’ve had two very large snowfalls back-to-back. The first snowfall, the large banks of snow weren’t removed because the next snowfall came,” Lukes says.

“And they can’t grade the snow away on the sidewalks because there’s nowhere to put it because we’ve got the mountains of snow.”

Lukes says she appreciates the crews who are working “around the clock” to keep streets clear, and points out it’s unusual to have two large snow-removal operations so close together.

Read more: City preaching patience, clearing of massive Winnipeg snow piles expected to take weeks

“In general, the city could and should be doing, in my opinion, a better job of snow removal on the sidewalks, but it all boils down to more money,” Lukes says.

“So they’re doing a review to see how they can do it.”

A report tabled at City Hall Wednesday shows the city went over its snow-clearing budget by $11.2 million in 2021. After accounting for savings elsewhere in the department, such as salaries and benefits, the number is closer to $6.9 million.

Lukes says adding more equipment and workers could help speed things up, but what the city really needs is a strategy for placing the snow temporarily.

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“So what’s going to have to happen is if we get another residential plow, there will have to be specific, targeted snow removal in these tighter, denser neighbourhoods, because there’s nowhere to store the snow,” Lukes says.

“It’s rare that we’ve had so much snow in such a short window of time. We have to balance out: does it justify buying millions of dollars more of equipment just to have it sit when we don’t have this amount of snow?”

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg snow by the numbers' Winnipeg snow by the numbers
Winnipeg snow by the numbers – Jan 26, 2022

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