Thursday, January 16, 2020 - 11:30 AM

Snow Update January 16, 2020

snow plow
So far this winter, St. John’s has been hit with successive snowstorms.
In a typical winter, the City would experience approximately 335cm of snowfall in total. By all accounts, this winter has not been a typical one. To date, the City has received over 170 cm of snowfall.  That is more than half of a typical winter snowfall in just four weeks, and current forecasts project another major storm. We budget for staff and equipment based on an average winter to ensure we are spending tax dollars wisely.   If we have an above average winter, we will have delays in getting all snow removals and sidewalks.
 
City crews have been working around the clock since December 24. The challenge we are facing this year is that we have had very little “down time” between storms to do the normal clean-up and removals that are required after significant snowfall. Staff have been hard pressed with trying to keep up with both the regular business of plowing and salting, and that of street widening and snow removal. In some cases, staff are not able to get back to widen priority two and three streets before having to refocus on plowing priority one streets again, to make sure they are available for emergency vehicles.
 
The City appreciates all feedback and understands many residents are stressed and frustrated with the snow on streets, sidewalks and property. 
 
When our crews plow snow, both sidewalk and street plows go at the same time.
 
Sidewalks are managed by a different crew and have their own priority levels. School zone sidewalks are assigned a priority one rating for snow and ice control. Other sidewalks are assigned the same priority as the adjacent street. Our full route includes 161 km of sidewalks. 
 
In a winter like we are experiencing this year, sidewalks are getting harder to maintain due to the frequency and volume of snow. The full route is not always completed when crews must return to priority school zones.
In addition to roads and sidewalks, we also have a separate crew whose job includes pedestrian signal buttons, hydrants, public stairs and other clean-up jobs.
 
Like all residents, City staff would welcome a break in the snowfall to allow the streets to be widened and snow removed, not only in the downtown but everywhere in the City. Unfortunately, given current forecasts, it may be a while before we get that break. Until then, the City will continue to do its best to deal with the challenges at hand.
 
What does this mean for getting through this winter?
Council is listening to public feedback and take your concerns very seriously. We ask for the public’s patience, understanding and (most importantly) their help in keeping our community safe for both pedestrians and drivers during this above average winter season.
 
Motorists
It is critical to public safety that all motorists clear snow and ice off of their vehicles before driving:
Slow down and watch for pedestrians
Be cautious when you see a plow, sander or any heavy equipment.
Be aware that sidewalk plows will be out pushing snow in stormy conditions.
Stay at least three car lengths behind city equipment, especially during salting operations.
Watch for the flashing lights on plows.
Be aware of the snowplow blades that often extend beyond the vehicle.
Be patient if you find yourself behind a plow or blower; the road is often worse ahead.
 
Pedestrians
Pedestrians should, when possible, walk facing traffic:
Wear light, reflective clothing when walking at night.
Use crampons or other safety equipment on your feet as, even when sidewalks are plowed, they are often icy due to our climate. A light dusting of snow may be covering an icy surface.
Stay aware of the traffic around you and watch for plows and other heavy equipment.
At crosswalks, be aware that vehicles may not see you or may require a longer time to stop before you enter the road.
 
City Residents
Residents, please make an effort to dig out your neighbourhood fire hydrant after a storm. We will get there as soon as possible, but with hundreds of hydrants and other important digging to do, it may not be done in time; working together with your neighbours you may make the difference if a fire should happen on your street.
We continue to receive complaints from residents who have large amounts of snow piled on their property. Unfortunately, given the winter we are having, we simply have nowhere else to put the snow. For the remainder of the season, we won’t be able to address complaints about snow on your lawn; we hope you understand, and we apologize for this.