With snow in the forecast, the City of Calgary has set goals to clear major roadways and transit stops faster this upcoming winter.
Changes to the city’s winter operations program will see major roads, community roadways and transit routes cleared within 36 hours after a major snowfall, compared to the prior response time of 48 hours.
According to the city, routes will still be prioritized based on traffic volumes, with roads like Crowchild Trail and MacLeod Trail classified as priority one routes.
The changes also mean community roads and transit stops will also get cleared within 18 hours of a snowfall.
“These enhanced service levels mean that we’ll be completing our snow operations on priority routes faster to improve safety and mobility for Calgarians,” City of Calgary mobility maintenance manager, Chris Hewitt, said in a statement.
“Our goal is to keep those major routes moving safely during and after snowfall.”
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The changes come following direction and increased funding from Calgary city council.
City officials said that funding will help with maintaining a 24-hour response time to clear prioritized pedestrian pathways, sidewalks around city-owned properties and more than 1,300 high-use transit stops.
“I think Calgarians will start noticing a difference because it does affect mobility for more than half the year,” Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp said. “It affects everybody’s mobility, regardless if you’re riding a bike, if you’re driving in a car, if you walk.”
According to the city, nearly half of the $51-million 2022 snow removal budget has been spent to date.
The city said there won’t be any changes to residential snow clearing this year.
But it’s not just city crews preparing for the incoming snowfall. Tire shops across the Calgary are fielding non-stop calls to book appointments for last-minute winter tire changes.
“We went from maybe doing roughly 50-60 cars per day to two weeks booked out right now with 120 cars on our schedule each day,” Kal Tire senior assistant manager Bret Morley told Global News.
Morley said the snow in the forecast is the “initial trigger” behind the increased phone calls and reservations for tire changes.
“This year has really been a later snowfall, or at least having snow in the forecast, so people have waited, which will create quite a backlog,” Morley said.
Meanwhile, the patio furniture at the River Cafe on Prince’s Island is nearly packed up and ready to go into storage, after a busy summer and fall with the warm weather.
River Cafe operations director Heather Pedhirney said while they do leave some tables out for “the chinooks that come in,” the restaurant is preparing for the upcoming winter season.
According to Pedhirney, the staff is looking forward to it.
“The wood-burning fireplace, pair that with a glass of wine or a hot chocolate and you’re set,” she said.
Some areas of Alberta are already getting a taste of winter — the trail cams at Sunshine Village are showing regular snowfall.
“Winter, we welcome you back with open arms,” the resort said in a tweet on Friday.
Environment Canada has issued snowfall warnings for the southwest portion of Alberta, including Kananaskis, Crowsnest Pass, Okotoks, and Canmore.